Race & Ethnicity

Blood on the WheelBlood on the Wheel

Blood on the night soil man en route to the country prison
Blood on the sullen chair, the one that holds you with its pleasure

Blood inside the quartz, the beauty watch, the eye of the guard
Blood on the slope of names & the tattoos hidden

Blood on the Virgin, behind the veils,
Behind — in the moon angel's gold oracle hair

What blood is this, is it the blood of the worker rat?
Is it the blood of the clone governor, the city maid?
Why does it course in s's & z's?


Sometimes I think about Great-Uncle Paul who left Tuskegee,
Alabama to become a forester in Oregon and in so doing
became fundamentally white for the rest of his life, except
when he traveled without his white wife to visit his siblings —
now in New York, now in Harlem, USA — just as pale-skinned,
as straight-haired, as blue-eyed as Paul, and black. Paul never told anyone
he was white, he just didn’ t say that he was black, and who could imagine,
an Oregon forester in 1930 as anything other than white?

Baby Villon

He tells me in Bangkok he’ s robbed
Because he’ s white; in London because he’ s black;
In Barcelona, Jew; in Paris, Arab:
Everywhere and at all times, and he fights back.

He holds up seven thick little fingers
To show me he’ s rated seventh in the world,
And there’ s no passion in his voice, no anger
In the flat brown eyes flecked with blood.

mulberry fields

they thought the field was wasting
and so they gathered the marker rocks and stones and
piled them into a barn they say that the rocks were shaped
some of them scratched with triangles and other forms they
must have been trying to invent some new language they say
the rocks went to build that wall there guarding the manor and
some few were used for the state house
crops refused to grow
i say the stones marked an old tongue and it was called eternity

my poem

a love person
from love people
out of the afrikan sun
under the sign of cancer.
whoever see my
midnight smile
seeing star apple and
mango from home.
whoever take me for
a negative thing,
his death be on him
like a skin
and his skin
be his heart’ s revenge.


lucy one-eye
she got her mama’ s ways.
big round roller
can’ t cook
can’ t clean
if that’ s what you want
you got it world.