What you are is the demand –
Don’t you see that it’s labels that command?
Who else to orchestrate the symphony of swords,
Composed of notes of hate and stolen words –
Snatched from air and incarcerated in skull gates.
Where you’re from – another inextricable tag,
With the insatiable vice to see you lag.
The sordid label clings, pinned to your ear,
Much like on a cattle’s back rear,
impeding success from lowering near.
Color of skin – before your mouth – speaks,
For in this world ethnicity reeks.
Like a stench, it floods through your pores,
seeps to your core,
So that you, yourself, like everyone else, can perceive naught more.
Who you are comes last,
And is so soon cast
To the side of irrelevant frivolity where, there,
it is destined to rust.
It’ll decompose amidst the fetidness, the swords, and the tags, just as it must –
To satisfy our prejudice and mistrust.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.