puppets

Group poem:

key: each color is one person

bolded black is all 4 people

underline is 2 people 

 

Do you eat curry?

Do you speak in tongue clicks?

Which parent is the dark one?

Do you ride camels to school?

Can you talk black to me?

Does your dad have an accent?

Do you like speak American?

Do you like spicy food?

Do you also speak um, like, Egyptian?

Why can't I say the n word?

Where do you come from?

 

My heritage holds me hostage
 

Not intentionally
 

But because of this skin

 

I’m not indian enough to be accepted my family darker than I

not white enough for my mother’s side

 

I’ve been stripped of myself,

 

They call me black

Call me indian

Call me white

Call me mulatto

Call me off-white

terracotta

“Bootleg”

“Mix up

“Cross breed”

“Hybrid”

“Half Blood”

 

Each remark is another mark on these balsa wood arms

Because toys can take a beating when they aren’t real people

 

I am just teeth and eyes in the dark right
Even in black skin I call home they only see the whitest parts of me

 

When i started looking for jobs, my mother told me to dye my hair.

“It will make you look more fair.”

 

Like I could paint my skin into a mosaic of privilege I’ve never fully owned

 

Was it my fault to think that there was fun to be had when all the little boys and girls pulled at my hair asked if it was  “real”?

 

They were trying their hardest to follow the strands of curls my head was holding up

 

They were trying their hardest to find a connection between my hair and my face and my color but they got lost

 

They still touch it like unclaimed land

 

Call it a last ditch attempt at colonization

 

My belts made of lynch rope
Pulled tight around these black genes I call my body
 

Society strings my arms to make me shake and dance to the beat of its drum

to be a doll of its imagination

 

these strings ain't nothing new
This string hung me high before they decides to call a lynching a puppet show

 

We marionette ourselves into our own unmaking

Find a new gepetto in every space

 

Code switch to assuage the fear

 

Or say nothing at all

 

Be Silent

 

I was taught to keep my mouth shut

I was taught to keep it closed unless someone asked me to speak

 

The first time someone followed me through a building door I was no younger than ten

 

I was taught not to scream.

Learned I’d never make a headline so I shouldn’t make a sound

 

Learned to make my voice something I never owned

 

I hold my head up high

while my arms are being pulled

in both directions of a split identity

 

How can we even tell you all this?

Aren’t we just puppets

Slaves to the narratives that fill our mouths

 

Aren’t we just vessels all saying the same thing

 

Aren’t we just snapped strings

Aren’t we just….

 

This poem is about: 
Our world

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