Blood Song (Complaint)

My blood’s become
a culture of complaint,
granular with apologies
just scraping by.

Living as I always have
in the place between
others’ love and hate, my body’s
an oft-rewritten history and I am

not the primary author;
though I am trying to assert
my voice in it, it’s not easy
over the grinding in my ears.

Am I at once
as bad and as good
as I’ve been told?
When they insist

I am this and not that, when they
beat into me that I am that 
and not this, when they hold
the patent on what those words

mean, when self-definition
has been so disallowed here,
how am I supposed to hold up
my hand and say I simply am

when my blood’s so thick
with apology, when the scraping of it
on my vessel walls
is drowning out the small whisper

of my real name from deep within?
Sometimes it feels that it might
get me closer if I were to open 
a vein and let some of that out,

spill it on the ground — here’s
one drop for all my ancestors,
one drop for my hate, one drop
for my love, a grainy flood for all 

which is not me but which made me;
perhaps when I see at last
my husk, I’ll know
what I was from the start:

a rewritten history throbbing
with sluggish tales of theft
cajoled from the grasp of proud
and self-assured people; another tale

of a mixed blood boy
ruined almost before he started —
that’s the tale they want, the tale
everyone wants —

but no. No. I’ll rewrite it again
with the full pain of my arms 
to inform me. If that does me in
I will at least have not bled out

a stream of sorry before those
longing for it. If that does me in
at least it will be me who passes:
not their construct, not their boy,

not their exemplar  
of a national tragedy. Just me
cooling down, the culture of complaint
pooling down, the grinding at last at an end.

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About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

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