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Image for the poem Birthday

Birthday

Your birthday, is one day ... what’d you do with the other 364?
 
“Slavery was never abolished, it was only extended to include all colors” ~ Charles Bukowski  
 
I scribbled those words
his words  
onto my DUP tombstone so long ago  
that I don’t remember the when
 
but the why is burning red
white  
and blue black.
 
I see the new plantation as he did  
Her womb is fertile.  
Ripe with money.  
 
My last name, “Heyward”  
is that of my family’s slave master,  
Thomas Heyward.  
 
a co-signer of the Declaration of Independence and notorious slave owner in South Carolina.
 
I’m a bastard of America’s greatest oxymoron,  
men who wrote of freedom but kept my mother’s mothers as concubines.
 
His tory still rules  
Gigabytes replaces cotton
OxyContin today’s tobacco.  
 
We keep our chains charged
and always on us  
in case someone needs to fetch us for work undone  
 
or we get called for a fuckin’
birthing more bastards  
cause the work is a plenty  
Amazon is always hiring.  
 
I don’t suppose Bukowski would have Facebook or the Gram  
[a gram, maybe]
 
I don’t either  
but I’m not as pure as he  
 
Because here I lie at 2:33 AM  
tapping out his birthday card on my iPhone  
while trying to wean my three year old off McDonald’s tit.  
 
I’ve tried purifying myself by marching  
and chanting through these crooked streets  
 
while the sheriff and his kind  
stand at the ready.  
badges and name tags covered  
with black tape  
not white hoods.  
 
Bukowski was right.  
Because when the sheriff and his men  
swing their clubs  
They don’t care who.  
 
Soccer moms in yellow t-shirts chanting  
“Don’t shoot your mother!”
Phil Dunphy dads in orange with leaf blowers
to bounce back the tear gas.  
 
Black boys with rocks shouting  
“Fuck the police!”  
An old white man who didn’t move fast enough
as the sheriff marched through  
and had his head bounce off the ground.  
 
I haven’t caught my beating,
yet.  
 
Probably’ll be about the same  
as when I spitting up blood  
in the hospital for two nights
coughing and hacking [coronavirus]
much like Bukowski at his end.
 
damning the world  
he couldn’t change.  
LobodeSanPedro
Author's Note
Charles Bukowski Birthday competition
All writing remains the property of the author. Don't use it for any purpose without their permission.
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