Tag Archives: biracial

A Blasphemy

You need to understand
that I was what they wanted all along:
the Mistake beyond any blood quantum,
denatured Native boy turned White man
but not quite, somehow Nothing At All
because to admit my own split
is all in my head is to admit
my inherent lack of substance.

I detest myself as the proof
of their success — more than all
the forced sterilizations, more than
all the direct massacres and stolen bones,
more than even the mascots
and the plastic feathers on the sports fans —

I am what they wanted
all along: something less than real
and more than myth. It’s a Friday night
and I’m a touch more than fucked up about it —

a weekend ahead of being
a ghost of my expected iteration —
and then the week, and then another weekend,
and somewhere in that sequence I will eventually pass,
and the Nation is smoldering as it would
with or without me although some would say
it’s because of me and how I was made
that’s part of the reason the country ended up here.
I’m the token slipped into the Great Genocide Game
to get the balls rolling.

God, if you exist, this isn’t your whole fault.
It’s also mine. I failed to die soon enough
to make them regret me. They call me a dirty word
that isn’t even obscene enough to mask my own name,

which is beyond dirty,
a blasphemy of how
I was supposed to be
called forth.


Half, Confronted

1.
The bathroom mirror

where I chase my ancestors

lets me know
in no uncertain way

which ones are hidden
and which are open about themselves.

All I can see there
are the ones I am loath to see.

Random people now and then
see or say they see

the others,
the ones I long to greet.

I do not. Now and then I think
I catch something of them but quickly

convince myself
I’m wrong, then change my mind

and say to myself, at last,
but then I look again and 

change my mind again. 
It’s not unlike deciding

on the cancer danger of a birthmark
you have been fretting about

your whole life. You will never see it
as nothing you can change.

There are days when
a razor seems to be your only savior

until you think about the blood,
wonder who will have to mop it,

and crestfallen
hold back one more time.

The bathroom mirror
where I chase my ancestors,

the arena where one side
struggles to smother the other,

the pale wall impervious
to my insistence that the other

be allowed visibility to match
what I feel and know of it;

I am certain I hear laughter
every time I see my face there — 

the ancestors who killed my ancestors
snickering at my sickening.

I want a shotgun to answer it
most days. I want to fight it,

choke it off, send it to
shadows to hide and be shamed,

stop myself once and for all
from looking in the bathroom mirror.

It’s a lie in there. It’s a truth.
A lie hiding truth hiding lies

hiding an explanation for all the rest.
A face so white it blinds me

to my best possible face,
one I can’t see or imagine

except now and then,
and those are the times

when I most want
to pick up razor or gun

and chase them away
for my own good.

2.
This self-loathing

makes me feel like a revolutionary.

Hours upon hours
of excoriating my Italian face.

Man, I wish I was
Hollywood Native perfect. Not really —

I know better,
of course I do, I know all the lies —  

but you know,
maybe I could have

just enough of it to clarify,
astonish, make people

wary of me, as wary as I am
wary of myself.

How easily I fall into those
same mythic traps.

Be yourself, just be yourself, 
relax into it, no one

cares, really,
say all the right people.

All the close ones as well as
all the distant arbiters.

They don’t get it:
this is me being totally

myself. As if I was anything else
but this 
wannabe Other, this

simply mixed kid all grown into this
ridiculous, genocided

old mess. I’m exactly what the Architects
Of The American Dream wanted 
to happen.

My self-loathing makes me uncommonly
useful to them as I am perfect to point at

when they strongly discourage folks from making
more of me and my type.

This is what you get, they say.
Me in the mirror wondering how to be

something I’m not, 
except I am, except not really. 

Not really,
except…

No. Take off this face.
Take it away, please.

A mantra I sing
over and over to the glass.

Pleading with the mirror,
pretending 

something genuine’s in there
to listen.  As if there is

anything whole and healthy
hiding behind the sum of my parts.

My self-loathing is all that’s there. It’s my
political stance,

my stand,
my 
bonfire beacon.

It’s all I have to go by
in the dark.


Half, Awake

Originally posted on 7/19/2009.

A man with long hair and memory
is trying to break into my house
to rob or smudge me
while I am sleeping.

I hear him trying the locks and murmuring to himself.
It’s not a language I understand but I recognize it
as what I hear whenever I contemplate
nature versus nurture.

Louisville Slugger behind the door,
Bowie knife in the nightstand drawer.
One move, and I can pull that knife.

Two steps, and I can have that bat in my hand.

Two more and I can be
waiting behind the cabinet
where he won’t see me
as he enters,

but I’m still lying here
with choices hovering above me.
I can easily snatch the right one
out of the dawn at any time…

Grandfather, Stranger, whichever you are —
please come in. I’ve got coffee and tobacco
to scent the morning. For today, anyway,
we don’t need to bring the war into this.


Slam Poem To Learn And Sing #3: Identify This

Being biracial in America
isn’t new
and neither is the fact that
America doesn’t like me
I am split
so America doesn’t like me
Because I do not fit
America doesn’t like me
Half of me is one thing
Half of me another
One file folder won’t do the trick
so America doesn’t like me

I’ve read the history
It’s all about figuring out where to fit
Ever since we dumped that 3/5 rule
we’ve forced everyone to fit
through blood quota and careful record keeping
through skin and eye and cheekbone check
through legislated confirmations of all of the above
we’ve eliminated “all of the above”
as a check box category
so America doesn’t like me

I’m not calling out black or white
Or red or brown or yellow
Stupid simple labels that say nothing
Color fields don’t tell the tale
of growing up with one foot in one grave
and one in the other
and the best explanation
of why America doesn’t like me
is that in a country built on bipolar thinking
folks like me scare everyone
They make up stories to cover the fear
“You look like this, you must be this”
Oh, America will not like me
when I say that being split creates a new whole
and a new hole in the armor of convenience
Here’s the secret of that new whole
(America doesn’t like me
for saying this
but it needs saying)
It’s not some living thing, this America
It’s just another box
Everyone’s got a box they call America
and they’re either in it or they’re out of it
and every box called America
looks different from every other American box
Someone keeps building these boxes
and makes us think we need them
But I think they’re made from the same stuff
the emperor wears
in that fairy tale
No boxes at all when it comes down to it
except the ones the con men built and talked us into
and it’s going to take someone like me
or a lot of someones like me
Someone the rest of you call half and half,
mutts, breeds, mixed bloods,
crossblood interruption in the boxing of us all
to say that the boxes aren’t real

and America may not like me for that
but standing here with both feet solidly
nowhere near a box
and my mouth wide open
I like me just fine

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Half-Breed/Half-Awake

A lovely
and gently dotty man
with long hair and longer memory
is trying to break into my house
to steal my money
or to maybe to burn sweetgrass at my feet
while I am sleeping.

I’ve got
a Louisville Slugger
behind the door,
a Bowie knife
in the nightstand drawer.

I hear him trying the locks
and murmuring to himself.
It’s not a language I understand
but I recognize it, something I hear
every time
I go around pontificating
on my nature
versus my nurture.

One move,
and I can pull that knife.
Two steps,
and I can have
that bat in my hand.
Two more and I can be
waiting behind the cabinet
where he won’t see me
as he enters,

but I’m still lying here
with choices hovering above me.

I can easily snatch the right one
out of the dawn
at any time.

There’s still time to choose.

I’ll give it another few seconds
and then I’ll decide…

oh, hell:

Grandfather or Stranger,
please come in, I’ve got coffee
and tobacco.  I don’t need to be
a warrior of any kind
right now.  The morning smells
too good to care this much
about which one you are.

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