Plain faced

They didn’t tell me

I was born ordinary

I felt it, a prickle in my bones, growing

plain-faced, my father reminded me

“work on your personality”

my mother, beautiful, smart

didn’t understand how a child of hers

could struggle to spell

behind thick glasses and a lazy eye

then she packed up and left

we were making an art of being fragmented

the other kids had families, after-school-clubs

swing sets, puppies, they hung upside down

and even then, looked the part, white teeth

straight backs, glossy well brushed hair

as if they had read a script on how to be

(able to survive the world)

and knew all the secrets

they didn’t tell me why I didn’t fit in

it wasn’t autism, no label, no category

a box of unopened reasons sat

in a dirty suitcase

on my kitchen table from 6 to 14

I ate my breakfast cereal reading a comic

like every other plain faced girl

dreading Summer and the wearing of shorts

the development of freckles and tree houses

succor for outcasts

my best friend and I ate

sweets that rotted our teeth

in the boughs of tenements and crying cement

where tired-looking women who were

probably only 25, the lines of their labor

etched into thin skin, hung dirty laundry

to be further muddied by the belch

of a merciless bloated city

I always felt


like the cuckoo

planted in incorrect nest

and if that is how we thrive

as I heard the other day

“challenges help you grow”

then bugger that for a laugh

because I developed a desire to dig


deep into black wormy earth

where the molestation of days

could not find me with their rage

call me a coward

well you did, many times

your disappointment hotly apparent

on your puckered nicotine laced lips

it didn’t disuade me

I learned on the easel of rebellion

ran hard and fast as long as I could hold out

on piss and vinegar and the immutability of youth

it seemed then …

easier to say ‘make me’ than

save me

it seemed easier to fight futile battles

and lose ground

than see a future that never

seemed distinct

they called me a bad kid

and I ate it hungrily

with a swig of soda

tepid from sitting in hot sun

The Late Colonialist

rochaMany years ago when her ancestors wore


white skinned women like herself were considered

in shallow groups of weak-chinned groups

the ultimate prize.

She recalls the stories she’s read

racism tied with a daggered bow

servants without souls or so

they liked to judge and damn

whilst still they raped and plundered behind

their wives fine china sets

the ‘help’ though slavery is more accurate a term

for no choice was made nor proffered.

Years ago and still present

people swerve away from black men

in hooded tops

when really they ought to be looking at

white men in high rise buildings making

corporate decisions

as the enemy of us all.

She looks in the tall mirror, her hand on a DNA report

the wonders of 21st century finding out too much

seeing her ancestors gallop

through the thick red wine of French blood

how much do they have on their hands?

What side on the Revolution did they stand?

She sees how fair skin is more prone

to stretch marks and ageing

she carries hereditary thrombosis throbbing in

her thin veins and the genes of her light colored

eyes have cataracts to look forward to.

At least she doesn’t have Celiac Disease

roiling in her belly, rebelling against

the abundant wheat field

instead she realizes

she is alive in the wrong colored body, in a too late era

to matter much anymore

where now women of ebony and brown and russet

conquer the rhetoric in their claim

finally the prize after decades of denial and she

ordinary, flab, drab, pale, wane, yesterday’s news

they say it really isn’t about that

when they pass her over for someone from

Uganda or Iran but she knows better

Kardashian or Iman Bowie

she knows the enticement of dark eyed girls

their thick hair and beautiful skin

she is just a late magnolia weeping

waxy and left too long on the branch

maybe she is paying for what ancestral harm

was done

back then and still now, depending on what

part of town.

Men tell her; I like your slim ankles

you look fetching in that blue dress

but their eyes betray their digression

it is not her they will ever want

she has nothing of the difference they crave

imbued with rainbow continent

spiced with unknowns and becomings

the raven always the raven, ever the ebon bird

who with her glorious chiseled features

captures their unfurling lust.

She is relieved in a way

nobody comes calling for her

existing behind glass in her pressed skirts

although still young, she feels she has

lived too long and it is better

in the vapor of silence

watching her reflection get lost

in the setting of the sun

over Africa’s

weeping trees whispering karma

to turquoise and orange