I’m Beat by Yuma Clark

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
I’m like you
I belong here,

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,
(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.

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

I’m tired.

I guess I’m beat.


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.