Copyright © Watch That Negro 2016.

Criminal Record (poem)

13 Dec 2016

 

Criminal Record

 

Conviction: to be born a Black woman

with lips swollen to perfection

like eyes mourning the daily abuses

pronounced through pearly teeth of an ingrate:

Birthed through blood,

strengthened by stolen milk

 

Shackles ringing out in anthem,

a call and response echoing between the centuries:

cries for men who might hover above the ground like paper lanterns,

or be strewn across asphalt like dirty clothes—

a blazing breadcrumb trail left by creatures

that lurk not under the bed, but between sheets.

 

Little white lies condemn me

for wearing my skin as a velvet robe

rather than cloaking myself in shame;

my hair grows like praise looking for blessings,

but cannot secure my acquittal.

 

Existence has been deemed the crime.

My sentence will be loving

what I have been begged to hate.

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