POETRY: I BUILD ME A FORTRESS

Why do you talk like that?

She asks

It rises in an instant,

the bile in my throat

it spreads like wildfire,

the burn in my back

Like what?

My voice intrudes,

a choked whisper

Like i have no business speaking English,

Speaking at all?

Like I’m not just some wanderer

reaping where I haven’t sown?

Like I’m not destined for the cornfields,

Created for the Slave Rows?

Like I’m any better than your cattle

any higher than a flee-ridden stray?

Like my people don’t cavort with monkeys

and rear elephants for food?

Like i’m not descended

from a long line of flesh sellers,

oath-breakers

Thieves

Cutthroats

Liars?

And my hair

isn’t a nest of dirt, lice and despair,

Like I’m any good

Like I ought not to still hover

in the back of your bus?

No, She says

Eyes piercing through momentary madness

Slipping through slats in my fortress

No,

Like this funny guy my sister brought home ages ago.

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