I’m Beat by Yuma Clark

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I’m Beat by Yuma Clark

I’m beat.

I’m tired of people moving
to other side of the sidewalk
when I walk my dog at night.
Hood down, smile real big, saccharin greeting
relax
I’m like you
I belong here,
too.

I’m tired of looks
assuming and presuming
guessing race, mood or intent.
The inevitable
“What are you anyway?”
Name’s no help–
Clark seems safe, though.

I am Yuma!
(Son of the Chief)
I scream inside my head.
But it comes out as the list.
“Russian, Italian, etc.”.
Why do I always start
with Russian and Italian?
not African?
I hate that I do that,

but do I pass?

I’m tired of remembering my roles.
To you, I’m brown enough
to be down.
And you, I’m from Fair Lawn,
light-skinned,
(most seasons)
speak well,
and will let your hate speech roll off me
like filthy rain.
Shedding most,
but always leaving an un-seeable stain,
face never showing anything.
Don’t rock the boat.
I don’t know any other.
My favorite role is me.
All me.
Just me.
But

it hasn’t been written yet.

Is the audience ready for it?

I’m tired of not knowing how/if to teach this camouflage to my sons.
(Will they need it?)

Will they yield to it?
I cry for the answer to be “no”,
but nature dictates
camouflage is adaptation
and adaptation is
survival.

I’m tired.

I guess I’m beat.

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Yuma Clark lives in New Jersey, where he has been teaching for 11 years. Outside the classroom, his loves are family, learning, and fixing things.

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