Chattel

a poem by Ricardo Hanley, Jr.

I’ve long since become numb to your whip.
I’ve grown tired and slowed my pace,
I was born a bit lighter, the results of a rape,

so my flushed face drips sweat as I work with my sisters and brothers in

amber waves of cotton.
I had the option to be a house nigger,
but masa hates our pride more than anything else,

so I’ve taken it upon myself
along with the frequent beatings,
to join my family, conditions indecent.
My subtle revenge, though my symbolic attack

could never contend.

Lately, many women and men have disappeared.
I hear the masa is doing studies on our bodies,

dead and alive.
We are merely cattle in their eyes,

despised animals fit for the slaughter in an array of ways, using our

teeth, blood, bones and hides of
mothers, fathers, sons and daughters.
I wouldn’t be surprised if among us in the fields
is a white man wearing our skin concealed.
This nightmare is beyond surreal
but the hunger and tears confirm, it’s all real.
We’ve been stripped of land, dignity
and all our history,

in exchange for a bit of scripture preached
by the man who conducts our misery.

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