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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Darkie Skullcap


This poem I'm about to post for ya'll was crafted during the middle of my undergrad at SFSU. It came about while watching this Black man, who wasn't Jewish, but dressed very strangely -- almost as if he intended to parody the Hasid Yids I'd known growing up -- and all at once I was suddenly inspired to write this piece.

Caution & Warning: it features explicit language, including racial and anti-Semitic slurs. I apologize if you are offended and would suggest you do not read on after the jump if such topics make you uncomfortable. Please be aware this is merely a poem about my experiences, thoughts, and artistic intentions; it is not meant to be a political statement.

Enjoy! Cheers

P.S. Watch This Link for a preface.

Darkie Skullcap

I see the Black Hebrew
asiatic, transatlantic
religious convert
continental immigrant
the ultimate stranger in a strange land

I see the Black Hebrew
fro topped by a top-hat
and Jew-lox hanging down his shoulders
like a platypus tail
bizarre combination of opposites

I see the Black Hebrew
speaking afro-Yiddish
Shylock in blackface
red lips and bright white teeth

I see the Black Hebrew
standing outside the window
during Pesach seder
the oldsters call him schvarzter
call him goy
call him nigger
and he calls back
idolater, imposter,
false-tribe, calf-worshipper
"am I not a son of Abraham?
is my skin too dark to be a Jew?
I am Ishmael, Ham and Sammy Davis Junior
I am Beta Israel, I am Hebrew!"
lifts shofar to his lips and blows

I see the Black Hebrew,
and he sees me too
silently asks, "so do you think
I am not a Jew?"
and I tell the black Hebrew,
"I think I do...
where were your ancestors
during the pogroms and the diaspora?
what side did you sit on
during the Crown Heights riot?"
he counters, "but I am the darker brother
who lives behind you
in the mirror we are reflected
separate, yet connected
a color contrast of our religion
both us and the other
both part and apart
from the tribes twelve lost"

I see the Black Hebrew
in his large black coat
with large black shoes
putting on tefellin
he looks like a hole
so dark I could fall into
so dark I could disappear

I see the Black Hebrew
in the soul-food diner he sits
back booth, asks the waitress
if they have anything kosher
she brings him pork-chops
with collared-greens
says that's all they have

I see the Black Hebrew
standing in synagogue alone
a frayed talis hanging down his neck
reading from second-hand prayer-books
singing Mourner's Kaddish
the cry my ancestors at Masada made
the cry from Polish shtetls
the cry in ghettos, boxcars, the camps
in the ditches and furnaces and skies of Eastern Europe
but he's wearing David's star upon the jacket breast
yellow patch offensive with his presence
among the oldster’s at Shul, they ask
what ancestors did he lose in the Holocaust?

I see the Black Hebrew
skullcap covering his bald-spot
an old dark yid
stooped on a park-bench feeding pigeons

I see the Black Hebrew
and he sees me too

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