Hand-Me-Down Halloween

By Natalie Diaz


The year we moved off / the reservation /

a / white / boy up the street gave me a green trash bag

fat with corduroys, bright collared shirts


& a two-piece / Tonto / costume

turquoise thunderbird on the chest

shirt & pants


the color of my grandmother’s skin / reddish brown /

my mother’s skin / brown-redskin

My mother’s boyfriend laughed


said now I was a / fake / Indian

look-it her now yer / In-din / girl is a / fake / In-din

My first Halloween off / the reservation /


I looked at my hands

All them / whites / laughed at me

/ called me a half-breed /


threw Tootsie Rolls at / the half-breed / me

Later / darker / in the night

at / white / Jeremiah’s front door / tricker treat /


I made a / good / little Injun his father said

now don’t you make a / good / little Injun

He gave me a Tootsie Roll


More night came / darker / darker /

Mothers gathered their / white / kids from the dark

My / dark / mother gathered / empty / cans


while I waited to gather my / white / kid

I waited to gather / white / Jeremiah

He was / the skeleton / walking past my house


a glowing skull and ribs

I ran & tackled his / white / bones / in the street

His candy spilled out / like a million pinto beans /


Asphalt tore my / brown-red-skin / knees

I hit him harder and harder / whiter / and harder

He cried for his momma


I put my fist-me-downs / again and again and down /

He cried / for that white / She came running

She swung me off him


dug nails into my wrist

pulled me to my front door

yelled at her / white / kid to go wait at home




go wait at home Jeremiah, Momma will take care of this

She was ready / to take care of this /

to pound on my door / but no tricker treat /


My door was already open

and before that white could speak or knock

/ or put her hands on my door /


my mother told her to take her hands off me

taker / fuck-ing / hands off my girl

My mother stepped / or fell / toward that white /


I don’t remember what happened next

I don’t remember that / white / momma leaving

/ but I know she did /


My mother’s boyfriend said

well / Kemosabe / you ruined your costume

wull / Ke-mo-sabe / you fuckt up yer costume


My first Halloween

off / the reservation /

my mother said / maybe / next year


you can be a little Tinker Bell / or something /

now go git that / white / boy’s can-dee

—iss-in the road


Natalie Diaz, “No More Cake Here” and “Hand-Me-Down Halloween” are from When My Brother Was an Aztec. Copyright © 2012 by Natalie Diaz. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, coppercanyonpress.org. All rights reserved.

Author Biography

Natalie Diaz grew up in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She currently lives in Mohave Valley, Arizona, and directs a language revitalization program at Fort Mojave, her home reservation. When My Brother Was an Aztec is her f

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