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
those at war within me
is at once
thinner and harder
than a razor
could ever split.