Friday, April 7, 2017

National Poetry Month: Theresa Davis

"all are welcome, well that is
if you’re from here, but you’re not"
Theresa Davis

when was there ever a time
when melanin skinned folks
were afraid to walk the land
afraid to show their skin
blood pumping through veins
loaded into boats
walked off of cliffs
living large
in the land of opportunity
interment camps
Ellis island
a gift from France
holding lamp light
with the threat of freedom
stars and bars
stripes of red hash marks lips
whip sting
boarder patrol
dead hands around necks
avoid eye contact
yes sir
no sir
the side of your mouth hungry
skin kissed from sun
everybody here
is from some place else
the minority
has become the majority
so cut out the fat
show me your papers
show me your bootstraps
show me your England
your Irish
your Sony
“Welcome to Moe’s”
the way to a country
is through it’s stomach
unless you can find
the soft spot
tortilla flesh
show me your papers
so I can borrow your charm
adopt your mannerisms
your diet
your style
point me to the nearest tanning bed
the nearest landscaped property
so authentic
so quaint
“Well that’s Un-American,” he says
and I want to ask him
if he’s ever seen a map
ever noticed how America
has a north
and south
how we all Americans here
that what he really wants to say
is United States-ian
but the united in that sentiment
sounds like a punch line
sung from sea to shining sea
and that the animal
who would call himself such a thing
as United States-ian
doesn’t exist
never would exist
I mean hasn’t he noticed
that everyone here
is from some place else
show me your papers

"All are welcome" was published on the blog of Theresa Davis, who is posting an original poem a day through the month of April. She lives and teaches in Atlanta. From her website, : In March of 2011, Theresa set out to compete in the Women of the World Poetry Slam in Columbus Ohio. She learned after making travel arrangements that she was not registered. She tried to win the video slam for entry. She lost. She tried to win the Last Chance Slam upon arrival, but in a gangster move the slam was a competition of fifteen poets cut to five, she was first and because of the dreaded score creep she was sure she would not make it past the cut. She was right. She stalked the registration table the next morning wondering if any poets dropped out. They didn't. She attended the poet orientation because she didn't quite know what to do with her body. After registration she signed up to be a sacrificial poet understanding that she would not be able to compete. An hour later she got the call that she could get in if she wanted. She wanted. After two days of competition she found herself third in the finals list of women who would compete on the finals stage. She won.

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