Lexicon           


                                 Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church arson
                                          Charleston, June 17, 2015



            Now at last
      it comes back to me

ashes I scatter not in observance
            but in disavowal

      hurt that resides
where it’s not apparent

            perfected infectious familial
 
      father brother even
a beloved soft-spoken uncle
            yet for me
      this faceless dissonance

schvarze
 
            So long ago I felt the letters align
      before I could hear
the hurt emerge

            consonants as dark as they were fervent
 
      not us burned into me
as though our ancestral tongue
            might encode exile for dissent
      for what I refuse to hold in the same mouth
as meyn mentshn

            my people

      Because how
can cellular memory
            so quickly forsake those who survive

      the bane of the Jewish millennia
the bane we become

            ashes

      Then Charleston 
my brother
            it was a bunch of schvarzes
      better them than us


How could I be me and also be that
 
            and could I disown my own
      hands that scrubbed the stench
of history from my moment

            essential yes
      that set me amidst
and set me apart

            that insisted Jew meant chosen
      meant touched by vistas
which might even uproot hate
            from the sacred soil of language
      before it became
blood escaping into earth

            Now it comes back to me

      clan I could no longer bear
slow acid of isolation

            then the day hate
      staked its avid claim

one razor exhalation
            whole scriptures of poison

      My voice stained at last
I was home
            I was horror
 
      the cancer of not us
growing from soul to throat

            a people apart
      the heart
of their own undoing