tan of salem

hitherto mankind i was aphrodite.

hitherto, hitherto, hitherto…


oh, if i could only live before the days of man!


who decrees i must be pale as the

porcelain over which my flesh is taut?

who prefers the fiasco to the sultry chianti?

who sees four brown limbs and thinks monkey?

who fancies segregation? who suggests human zoo?


and as mankind is the brown girl’s heathen, we

cannot help but laugh at the matches and stakes.

              at least, we think, if we do not have souls,

              they still do believe there are hearts to pierce.


but, oh, doesn’t the chanting sting the most?

before they rally they first delineate:


“don’t say brownskin– say bohemian,

say impoverished,         say generational

say filthy,                        say barbaric.”

yes, say all those things that make me wish

you never found indio passé instead.


and this is where the story always fizzles:


i am waltzing alone to

the prosodies of the witch hunt–

white frock

                            white lily diadem

white windows latched

                            white curtains still

white smoke from a

                            white kettle and

white lashes drifting shut–


falling asleep to a dream where–

murders of crows like it best where–

they knock down the doors but i’ve long gone where–


brown girls are not serpents devouring themselves

                                (say savage),

only to grow more fiercely into the same brown skin.

                                                                                                          say lucid.

                                                                                                          say content.

                                                                say coming home to Apo Init’s

                                                                             earthenware chiffonier,

                                                                as ash does with dust so too must

                                                                                        clay do with clay.

What are you looking for?