My country perceives me as a sketch.
Thick and thin strokes
of a shadowed body living rough,
caught inside its finite web.
In necessary moments,
I am grudgingly glanced by the ‘not all’
who leave the systemic threads
of our unfinished union to hang,
stitched in tight, tangled, ragged, and dirty,
for open eyes to see.
Much of my country believes
that fear is a governing principle.
They are weaving larger shards of it into the places I live.
Broken glass theory raising welts,
breaking skin.

I am stared at through wolfish eyes
that cycle between denial, a pretense of awe
at how much suffering I can endure, and then
(when their webbed sins need more cover),
a feigned blinding fear of black skin.
All this cycles back and forth, over and over.
Crazymaking, as it may suit.

I am red points on a white map.
I am a vote tortured through an engineered maze.
I am shouted at for no reason, pushed
then told to give up.
I am taught to fear being on my own side.

How does the unencumbered vote not come first?

I hear the shiny talk of a better future,
of unfiltered sun and
other inalienable rights
I thought I already had.
But as one fight is won,
more battles rise, like weeds
with thousands of white seeds blowing,
deflating my gratefulness, delaying relief,
making weariness harder to shake.

My cuts drip red with hope.
I tie them again with worn bandages,
and hold on. Continue to speak.
Show myself as I am.
I know my country hears,
because it responds.
So far, that’s the deepest cut


Painting, “Woman Reading,” ca 1927, Juan Gris. Two Coats of Paint