One Hundred Amazing Facts about the Negro, with Complete Proof, II

Safiya Sinclair

They could deal with the Negro as a symbol or a victim but had no sense of him as a man.
     —James Baldwin

Nature, we have spent our many lives

our scowl colossal, half-light
stripped from eye and sockets,
that song bojangling, unrecognizable.

Home some brute sojourn
we wracked unspeakable, we mute vernacular
smashed nuclear sun and this code-switch.

All night the world bled on my fang
like a language and we unsmiling
                                             our narrow gape
                                             our space unslanging,

And all of us a zero.
Count old catalogues of bone, hair, teeth:

How broad how thick how beastly
and you the glass beaker of seeds
who gauge minute fractions of man, am I Orang-utan

Or am I savage? Neighbour,
I am naming you damned.
Blood brother, trained guerilla, renegade.
Killer. Threat of the Africanized bee.

Are we unsymmetry, skulls a million unfillable,
this dark uranium. With life half-cycling.

The parched chopper circling.
Cowed mammoth in the weeds.

Tag skin, brain, misdemeanour.
What was left to inherit?

Another spotlight
Nation, we are silencing
our many voice rehearsing

your shadow plays; a knock,
a hard knock, an illiterate dream;
O snuffed singularity—

How bright the searchlight
of our homecoming: black comet
sprawling past black infinity, black heavens.
Black grenade.

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