America, I Am

I come from the kidnapped,
                                    the assaulted––
my country’tis of reparations as in-store credit
                                    backordered to bankruptcy

It is me & my trophy wife
passing as a dream of some kind

All I want is 40 dead mules
& an acre of land w/ a lighthouse
              right above the porch of the great Atlantic Ocean
              just in case any of my ancestors tasted nasty & made it.

I come from a people who pay a penalty every sunrise
& divinate to paroled gods with rancid hog maws.

The stripes plowed into my grandfather’s back
will have to stand in for our family album.

Somebody threw some stars at my grand-momma’s head
& said ‘betcha won’t ask for no freedom no mo’!

Natives in prison-issue war bonnets say:
I come from a poisoned land that recycles children
           into artillery shells
                      & where dark skin is good as
                                 an invisibility cloak

            until the police arrive.


I am proud to be a _____________
where I can hold my head up and drown
in the downpour of state sanctioned cancer.

I am proud to hold my place
in back of the line.

I come from a land that’s open all night
like a shotgun wound.

& as for ya’ll tired,
                                   ya’ll poor
                                             ya’ll huddled masses
yearning to breathe free

Fuck ya’ll!

I come from a place promising
a burning cross in every yard

& two meth labs in every garage
          & when I say: meth lab

I mean golden
                        retrievers smoking crank.

The country I come from

I can flash all its gang signs
           & beatbox all their anthems.

I come from a place­­––
actually, I don’t know where I come from

I just know I woke up here.

My babies are gone.
My house was on fire.
& I couldn’t breathe.

From Martian: The Saint of Loneliness. Copyright © 2022 by James Cagney. Published by Nomadic Press. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.