“I Sailed With Columbus”
When I was eight years old, in 1992
I first learned about Christopher Columbus
and I sang along with my class
“In fourteen-hundred and ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue”
and we drew pictures of him
and we had a party to celebrate
the 500th anniversary
Ten years later, I graduated from high school
and I joined Columbus
and his crew
and it was such an honor
to sail around the world with him
finding new places to discover.
The little money we earned never lasted,
spent at brothels and bars
but we believed so much in Columbus
and so much in what we were doing
we felt like rock stars,
the money didn’t matter,
God was on our side!
A few people we didn’t know
got a lot of the gold
that we brought home
but I felt blessed to even be a part of the voyage.
It was my duty to God and to country.
Even after I left the great explorers crew
I happily helped pay for his voyages
as he sailed off to discover new lands.
After spending some time
reflecting on the voyages
that I took part in
I realized that,
though I have two eyes
I had failed to see
of the people
in the places we ‘discovered’
in the places we invaded
these places we terrorized
and pillaged for gold
and for human beings.
Though I can unfortunately
the song that I learned
as a youth
about Columbus sailing the ocean blue,
my support for Columbus
and his voyages
and, though I cannot undo
the things I’ve done
if I ever pick up a weapon again
I will be fighting alongside the Taino
not Columbus and his men.
. (The handwritten haiku/tanka is shorter version of this longer poem I wrote a while back reflecting on my ‘travels’ more than a decade after coming home from a beautiful land we still violently occupy)