Even If the Full-Blood Family Don’t Claim Us
Electric Lit is 12 years old! Help support the next dozen years by helping us raise $12,000 for 12 years, and get exclusive merch!
on my great GrandFather’s feathers
—the ones you don’t respect—
That you never dare call me
when i have been a nigger anytime
you felt like it.
I’m from an army of glowing yellow/black princesses
some of us indigenous. we know.
even if the full-blood family don’t claim
We all one caste system away from
I’m mixed with Moors and anybody from Alabama
I’m mixed with kool milds & sometimes cigars
british tea & southern comfort
Apartheid & Jim Crow
My shoe shine black
no shield, no mask—nothing removeable.
I’ve always taken my blackness to dinner
Worn it in the shower, shared it with my lovers
Never asked permission to be who I am
Or changed my voice to fit the description
land the job
not scare away the boys
body still recovering from the thunderous pull of
a Jamaican crowd hauling me
down into their sea of calabash eyes
They tell me
they feel my spirit
in their Treasure Beach chest.
I know you didn’t hear it
Your seashell speaker remains broken
or maybe you just
not to hear my
leveed lips. Water
when it’s rising
In winter black girls are bright super moons
waiting for you to notice.
twice as beautiful inside
a quiver of cold breath pushes out our bodies
It’s winter in america, again;
the subtle sound of survival.
a wolf howls at the indifferent morning
we are always mourning. in black.
we don’t choose this pain. these colors.
We swallow our ivory keys
Our sharps & flats, an enharmonic black scream:
The way Ponchai Sankofa Wilkerson held a key
Under his tongue and spit it out
before they executed him
We know freedom.
Is just one fuck you
Away from being this poem.
We didn’t choose to scrape
samples of our organs back together
sew what was left of America inside
A matted flag
woven beneath the delicate seams of
Born into this madness
Our bloodline threads unbeveled
against each blue stitch
I’ve worn these scars ’cross my face
My entire life and when you asked how i got
Them, I said
“An angel touched me.”
I earned the right to my own damn mythology
What else do we have left
our bodies reduced to all that matters
inside fragile feminism courses.
There is zero removal of this
| Black. |
My British born, Canadian raised mother
never asked me to
So, why you?
She raised a black girl
Who loved to read; put
Alice Walker and Hansberry
in my hands.
buffalo & eagle
hampton & hooks
Tear gas & Standing Rock
Front line women & crooks
holocaust & genocide
horses & low-rides
This poem is my proof of life
Your paperwork, never worked.
I understand why you worry when
A drop of blood swims back to shore
From We Want Our Bodies Back by jessica Care moore. Reprinted with the permission of the
publisher Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins. Copyright © 2020 by jessica Care moore.