by Joshua Braunstein

They line my face like tear drop tattoos
commemorating the fallen soldiers I have destroyed.
Every piece of fried chicken, every potato chip,
every French fry on the memorial of my face as a god damn pimple.
And I am embarrassed by my skin,
as every blemish is etched into my being for all to see,
but then it hits me. It is now time to be Proactive
because I have this good clean and clear sound
that cannot be accucontained until I am cetaphilled,
but I am still embarrassed by my skin.
Red dots cover my face
like a team of marine snipers saying, “Sir we have the shot,”
but they never take it.
Little red stars littering the galaxy of my face.
Mars is on my forehead next to this moon crater of a scar,
the big dipper on my left cheek
and Orion’s belt across my upper lip
and I can feel a supernova forming on my chin
and I am embarrassed by my skin.
It’s like acne is a brand new artist
and my epidermis is his breakout—single.

I stand on stage at a poetry slam
and I am embarrassed by my skin.
These white heads on my white face
and I am embarrassed by my skin.
He stands on stage and talks about
being handcuffed and charged as black in public
and I am embarrassed by my skin.
She recites a poem about Africa
and how they enslaved her kin
and I am embarrassed by my skin.

I begin to feel this guilt within
as I am embarrassed by my skin.
But what you might not know is that I also belong to a tribe.
You might have heard of us. Some refer to us as the chosen people.
You may be familiar with the pyramids
my ancestors built in Egypt. You may also
be familiar with the term concentration camp
because the only difference between us is the color of our skin
and the implements they used to kill us.
Even today we still judge books by their covers,
but if you open us up the letters are still black and the pages are still white.
My people forever shackled to the stereotype of shekels
and yours forever enslaved to 400 years of rage.
And they continue to linger with phrases like, “Damn, they Jewed me.”
and a generation casually tosses around the “N” word
when if 50 years ago someone called you that
they would be picking their teeth up off the pavement.
So, I am not embarrassed by my skin
because this acne will fade, but our history will not.
We can rise above hate with our words and our actions.
So I stand here as an example of how looks can be deceiving.
And this poem is simply a reminder that
not everything is so black and white.

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