Daily Archives: April 11, 2016

Colonized And Colonizer

In the streets of the colony beneath my skin
runs the blood I was born with, 

the blood with its conjoined DNA
of colonized and colonizer;

when I cut myself, the drip smells
of them both.

Get close enough to it,
dare to stick your nose near to it;

smell how pleasant it must be
to be on top as well as the fear and sweat 

of those holding it up
from the very bottom. Go farther,

press a little tongue to it,
taste iron of blade and shackle,

copper of sale and resale,
all the stolen metals of this stolen land.

Get close enough; 
the flavor should overwhelm you

but that doesn’t stop anyone from trying to claim
it’s tasteless to notice that.

The colonizer says, all you’re spilling now
is sour grapes, you sad little wino;

the colonized says, if you live a knife’s rationale
I guess you do what a knife tells you to do;

whatever it is that wants me at peace says
screw the noise of history and stop cutting yourself,

you’re needed; whatever it is that’s left after that says
war is hell, this is war, this has always been war

and war needs blood to flood the run
where the frightened go, where the terrors chase.

The rich thieves of soil and soul have made
the streets beneath my skin their home.

The ones they robbed
make their wasted homes alongside those roads.

Sometimes I don’t recognize how much I favor them both
when I see the mirror.

I will have to draw the blade cleanly over
my thin wrists to have something in which to paint

a truer self-portrait than either colonizer or colonized
could ever render alone,

for I am both,
I am neither,

I smell and taste
of both and neither,

any blood I spill
isn’t mixed but pure and purely mine;

since you asked, the distance between
at war within me

is at once
thinner and harder

than a razor
could ever split.

I Wake Up In Despair

I wake up in despair most mornings. Each day
slants uphill and it takes everything to climb it 
with the load I’ve got to bear.

I wake up in despair most mornings
but find comfort in knowing 
things that a Pharaoh can’t know — 

how, for instance, to pick myself up
without an entourage to help me; how in fact
to get by with no entourage, neither in celebration

nor in sorrow; how to fall down back-broken
and get back up again next day for another round
with nothing but what’s in me to pull me up.

I wake in despair most mornings. Each day
bores me — sometimes with a dull drill, sometimes
with a bludgeon of same and same and same again.

I wake in despair most mornings 
but find comfort in knowing
things that a boss can’t know, or has forgotten —

how to do the dirtiest bits of a dozen jobs, for example;
how to take the next step when it’s time, how to 
fix the broken piece, how not to fail

from seven AM to lunch, how to stay awake
from lunch to three PM and longer
if three PM becomes 5 PM or later.

I wake in despair most mornings knowing
how little of my life is open to me, based on
how much time I have to spend recovering from the rest of it.

I wake in despair most mornings
but I can almost get to glee in knowing
what a king does not, what they may never know —

how to run riot in the streets to spite all my aches and pains,
how to run riot in the streets with all the others aching and pained,
how to run riot in the streets knowing how little time I likely have — 

but knowing as well that ahead of me, somewhere
cowering, somewhere hiding behind mere walls, 
a king, a boss, and a Pharaoh are, at last, themselves in despair.