how the poor appropriate

i’m black, and im nigerian, my hair is peas
but i got it straight in ’96
put the cream in my scalp
S-wey Thelma Audrey said count to 99
even if it burns, hold on,
but “close your eyes!
those chemicals turn
black boy’s hairblonde and long,
blind as well

my father just shook his kinky old head
said i looked like a shoemaker from ghana
he didn’t say cobbler, he meant to displease
i was happy, with my perm burnt forehead,
because i had long hair– and burnt ears.

i was eleven, played basket ball in my imported nikes
with my brother after we were done stick fighting
we are as yoruba as they come, at least in name
but i said call me Shaq, like I was American black

I watched t.v,
but was too young to listen to rap
ninja turtles on b sky b
robocop, the young indiana jones, the grannies of gobshot hall
I remember them shits better than grandpa’s death pall
when aunty sweetie perfumed his dead body
and Chris Wey cried in front of everybody,

power rangers, silverhawks, braveheart-
a native american shaman with juju powers-
and hummed to “long distance clara”

each show was preceeded by a big mac
so of course i ate at mcdonald’s
my first night, drowning in a supersized sack

the potholed, not quite clean country
that has detroit in its midwestern heart
i live in that pigeon call
unclaimed by roots

lastly… pele was god
then the ghanians took him
like pies and cookies
in excahnge for kente and kenke

now god lives on the gold coast
and the rich visit
a short history of how the “poor” get it
the academics wouldn’t say this
but to be human is to thieve

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