The fools nearly killed me trying to make me one of them:
a loaded word of bond with dress codes and penal codes,
postured allegiant to the culture as with the flying of flags
from knots tied on the back of head wraps worn hoods over.
I can’t gunpoint when the life of this alter ego began though
the possibility can’t be dismissed it began at gunpoint in a way,
with an icy pressure against the temple, the mind splitting into two
tracks while a circus of peers clowned.
Going back far too long
now, the camera has blurred my edges in the suggestion of motion
even if I stood as still as the air does before shit really hits the fan.
I truly went ass-first into fronting indifference, forbade my happy
teeth from public reveal lest they pop the balloon of my perfectly
round face, baby-angled, already read as kind or innocent or soft
from the jump when I wanted respect on my name and women on
my lap like it was said I should. And, shamefully, I did. Several
sistas come to mind here and this doesn’t make me feel good;
a tender touch in the moonlight goes only so far for a shadow.
I had to break it down for myself that being down represented
the fear of having fear.
I still shake when the wind blows,
scary as ever, thespian as always in all ways toward the ghost
of a threat or disrespect passed through me then through me,
through a thin skin then through the skin. So, to compensate—
a mask, what Dunbar’s bars beat home way back when about
standing in the presence of the pale folks, only that idea flipped
upside down, what’d be a forced smile slicing the face open like
some summertime melon instead setting scowl folds into smooth
forehead, brown eyes set at the mouth’s corners, fixing it in the
position of silence like rusty nails.
If carrying nothing else,
I learned to bring this exact look to the danger because being me
to the fullest would be a liability, provide a sharper image for the
hidden cameras to home in on; yes, just that fast—a certified blue,
strolling up to the screen door with a heavy hand for knocking and
his true hand resting so sweetly on his gun. My gun, I should say,
since in this case the cop is also me, like that little angel or devil
used as sitcom trope.
Just imagine the person coming for you
being you every time: don’t trip, you’d say, unless into the fight.