Poetry

stolen kaffeklatch

it was only supposed to make me upset, no one else
idk who i am and i never will
i have to go where i go and belong with whoever will have me
i have to make myself out of leftovers and discarded junk
i have to entertain people who hate me
and defend people who dont want me
in words they dont understand
where ever i go someone mistakes me for someone else
i can hurt without the benefit of disregarding the hurt
but i can’t build without ears to my words

i cling to a label because that’s the best i have
who is going to listen to a long complicated story
about how port cities work and the conflict between
French colonialism and Spanish colonialism
which then became a war between American colonialism
and French colonialism until American was all that’s left
the Francophone population dwindles down daily
spoiler alert the French lost

“slavery” is comprehensible but it’s not quite complete
birth certificates don’t always tell the whole truth

see you’ll find the slave-descended, the pureblooded
in the church praising Gawd and Lawd Jesus
i can’t go there because my elders sang very quietly and off key
with veils over their hair
cluthing handmade rosaries in their work worn hands

in the genetic muck
are poor white people imported from random places looking for a better life
and Natives fleeing Florida and
free blacks tossed out of New Orleans by the new American regime of segregation

to which one of those should I run to?
Neither Disney nor contemporary sociology has an answer for me
I can’t go to the East Side of Chicago like President Obama and pretend to be a hoop n holler Christian… nobody is fooled by that
I can’t go back to the maternal homeland where I can barely understand what people are saying, the infrastructure is wrecked and kaffeklatch and make groceries and geaux tigers
I can’t go to Japan and be not Japanese like my dad
I can’t go to Italy just because one of my four great grandfathers was a Dago and Italians perfected the poboy
If I go to Africa, which part should I try?
I’m definitely not going to the Seminole reservation.
Which of these will accept me as daughter?
If I go home to France, they’ll tell me I’m a Muslim!

The best I can do is read bell hooks and support AAVE as a national language
Hope no one notices my headwraps and animal prints
roll my eyes at the fair jazz faculty
be like #blacklivesmatter when my own other me
cry into the river that acts as a border, separating me from home

no matter what i claim or try to be it will be fake

Edith said whereever I went people would think I was from there,
and in a sense she was right,
whereever I go people tell me I’m from somewhere else.

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