Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Make Me Human or Give Me Death

by HAUNTIE

This matters because i’ve lived on that side of life that you all have made for 
me

partitioned
the orphaned one

i who carry the fire from your ashes, the chains of your people,
and the residual sting from an incessant yellow rain

This matters because i realize something you thought i would never even
know!

that i have a mouth
and a throat!
my body remembers
the flesh, this flesh, my flesh is woke.

This matters because my mouth will let me be myth, no more!

i carry this fire and i carry it well and you will feel this heat
when you come up next to me
i will press you with this light until your sweat turns to boiling hot water
to relieve me
i will lick you, whip you with these flames until your body breaks
like mine to free me

and you will crawl and unlearn love and joy like i did
and you will cry and call for your God like I did.

because i am myth, no more!

Feel me.

and this flame which burned my grandfather’s house down
and this light which shackled my grandmother’s body down
and this heat which scorched my father’s spirit down
will look onto you and take you like it took me too

its
white
light

Because it matters
and this is how you will know me
Because i matter
and this is how you will fear me
Because i can be silent, no more!

to this white lie

or give me death.

4/26/2016

Credit


From To Whitey & the Cracker Jack (Anhinga Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by May Yang. Reprinted by permission of Anhinga Press.

Author


May Yang

May Yang is a first-generation Hmong-American artist, writer, and ethnographer from California. Writing under the persona HAUNTIE, she is the author of To Whitey and the Cracker Jack (Anhinga Press, 2017), which was selected by Evie Shockley for the 2016 Robert Dana Prize in Poetry. 

Date Published: 2017-11-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/make-me-human-or-give-me-death