Sunday, November 22, 2015

One Eighth

One Eighth

Most of my people came here to escape 
starvation and oppression, some 
even shipped without their consent, 
their names respelled to suit 
the culture and education of the person 
logging them in at the point of arrival.

My people came here and scattered 
like dandelion seed, seeking their 
own but considering the new start 
a better option to starvation. 
Didn’t matter that their wages 
cost less than keeping slaves. 

They buried us where we fell;
the mine, the levy, the battlefield.
I come from these people, who were white,
and became american. Who had all 
the babies, half of whom lived. I come from people
who say Jaysus, Mary, and Joseph, and it’s not blasphemy.

Except for that one eighth.
The one eight that would make me 
african or asian or native. The one eighth 
granted land by Cromwell, or George III
to come here, bringing civilization.
Bringing genocide.

Those who owned people, their own relatives,
brothers, sisters cousins. Those who kept
the white code and the pedigree 
because that is what the descendants will see. 
Those who edited the stories so it all 
looked idyllic for us who came after.

That one eighth would make me black,
regardless of fair skin and good hair.
That one eighth makes me one of those
who can own humans. This is the part
white people forget about the one eighth rule.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Three Roses

He brings me three roses
in a small yellow vase
and he says, I hear women forgive 
a lot if you bring them flowers.
He says

You are a unique,
you challenge me, and
I’m so glad I found you.
He says I want to spend
the rest of my life with you

and I want to hear that from you
before I invest anymore into this.
I look him in the eye
and the last 5 years fast forward
on the screen between us.

I remember more than he does.
His gaze moves off and 
he says Obviously I'm not going 
to like what you have to say.
I am silent, rubbing my nose

with the unscented longstems.
His alcohol droopy eyes
attempt another focus, his balance 
shift tilts a little too far and 
I try to remember where I left my keys.

I really do not want to do this now, 
I really do not and thankfully, this time, 
he believes my praise of the roses, is hungry
enough to be distracted by dinner, 
and after, passes out in his chair.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


She leans forward in her chair by the window,
studies my face and asks, Who are you?
I remind her, again, I am my mother's daughter.
She just shakes her head, But you are so... old.
I nod. Here in this tiny old house where she was born 
I am forever 8 with crooked teeth and scabby knees.
She looks out the window at her neighborhood,
now just the hood, watching what used to be
spin passed the place that has always been hers. 
I watch it with her until she asks again.

Published 2014 in La Palabra: The Word Is Woman