Obama in Kenya by Deidre CreativeSoul
our fathers' names
stretched into question marks,
every blank space
crowded with assumptions;
hearts that beat
for single moms,
and poor dreamers;
brown skin tones implying
connection to distant nations
we have never known
and no end of grief
in our so-called own
which not even the spirit of aloha
allowed you to ignore.
Does it really matter, then,
that your Kenyan big ma
can trace the family back
You are Luo. I am… jealous.
My question marks are bolder,
my blank spaces, longer.
They throb like missing limbs.
Some days, I search the mirror
for traces of faces that predate
cotton, chains and crack cocaine.
I miss the music of their names.
Can you explain this rage to America?
Does it matter that your Kansan grandparents
resemble the bandits who robbed me
of an ancestry more specific than
kente stoles, Senegalese twists and
other scraps of Continental cultures
pieced together by people
with no remembered past
It seems almost too-convenient
that in the aftermath of Hurricane Bush,
white America has fallen in love
with you, who will not remind them
their ancestors were bandits
who crucified our sages
and scrubbed our mother's tongues.
With you, they can pretend
that all my scars are self-inflicted,
feed me Greco-Roman-British legends
through ever-present airwaves
yet insist that I am tragically obsessed
with Africa's inglorious past.
After all, one of “us” has made it to the White House:
isn't that enough to satisfy?
Not quite. You are Luo. I am…
homeless. I dare not hope
that you have come to bandage
open wounds or purge
planted images of flesh eaters
and headhunters, maniacal warlords
and fat-bellied skeletons.
If you could, they would nail you to a cross.
Deidre CreativeSoul is a poet, photographer and publisher. Her debut collection,
Border Crossing: a poetic memoir, was released at the end of 2015 and is set primarily
in the small neighborhoods where she was born and raised on the edge of Washington, DC
and Prince George's County, Maryland. A traveler at heart, she has worked, lived and
studied in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston and most recently, New Orleans. She has
performed in nearly every city she's called home, including Womanifest, a quarterly
showcase of women artists in New Orleans, Black Friday, a bimonthly arts event in
Atlanta, and Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC.
Deidre is a graduate of Emerson College's MFA program in Creative Writing and an
alumni of the Cave Canem Poetry Retreat. Her poems have appeared in several
publications including the anthologies Full Moon on K Street and Gathering Ground.
After teaching community writing workshops and college-level writing courses for
several years, Deidre led her first international poetry workshop in 2014 at Culture
and Development East Africa in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and gave her debut
performance in Ghana in February 2016.