“My People” by Donald B. Campbell

Poetry Pause is the League of Canadian Poets’ daily poetry dispatch. This June, Poetry Pause celebrates Indigenous and LGBTQI2S+ poets for Indigenous History Month and Pride Month! Read “My People” by Donald B. Campbell.

My People

By Donald B. Campbell

Part Scottish

part English

a little Welsh


and French.

My ancestors couldn’t

stay in one place

or keep their genes

in their pants.

They are my people

by geography

by blood —the double helix

of happenstance —

but not by something


My other people

were shadows


whispered jokes

nudges and winks

the funny uncle who never married

two old maids in one bedroom

the girl with plaid shirts

the boy who couldn’t catch

the young man tied

to a split-rail fence

in a Wyoming field

beaten and left to die

found too late

by someone who thought

he was a scarecrow.

My people had

fingers and crosses

pointed at us.

My people wore

pink triangles


naked and cold

tried not to breathe

in gas-filled rooms

beside Jews and gypsies

beside hundreds



never enough to satisfy

history’s rumbling gut.

My people are here

will stay here

will marry

if they want to

raise children

if they want to

go to church

if they choose to.

My people are

brave are

beautiful are

blessed are

standing around me

breathing in

these words.

Copyright © Donald B. Campbell

Donald B. Campbell is a writer and English as a Second/Additional Language teacher in Saskatoon. His plays have been performed in Saskatchewan and Alberta. He is an associate member of the League of Canadian Poets. His writing—including poetry, short stories, plays, monologues and journalism—has been chosen in competitions and has been published in newspapers, magazines, print anthologies (including by Coteau Books, the League of Canadian Poets, Off Topic Publishing, and Streetcake in the UK) and online anthologies, as well as on websites (such as the Saskatoon Public Library and Syncopation Literary Journal) and on provincial and national CBC Radio.

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