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Tobacco Blood

Hess Love

I'm mixed with
dreams of salt water suicide before auction blocks.
The crack of the whip under a blaring sun and pride
splattering across tobacco leaves is a dominant gene in my DNA.

My features reflect rape,
my eyes are the same
that had tears running
down mahogany skin as a man
that was absent of both color and humanity
entered my ancestral mother
and my other ancestral mother
and another one.

I'm mixed with not wanting to count the tears anymore.
I'm mixed with seeing white people pop up
as relatives in my ancestry results.
Seeing their family trees go back into the bronze age
while I can't get further than the 1850's
for anyone labeled negro.

I'm mixed with
everybody has been black since a score before
the emancipation, but I can't shake this shit off.
I'm mixed with my grandmother once telling me
we were part native because no one in the family
wanted to acknowledge the white men that raped their way
into our lineage.
I'm mixed with wanting
to reach into the ancestral realm
to pull the spines out of those motherfuckers,
I'm mixed with wanting
folks to stop finding beauty
in features influenced by rapists,
slavers, murderers, thieves, liars, crooks and colonialists.


Don't ask me again.



Hess Love is a poet, archivist, ethnoecologist, storyteller and healing artist. As a co-founder of the Chesapeake Conjure Society, Hess’ creative and community work as a Hoodoo historian lives at the crossroads of culture and environment. Their stories are rooted in folklore, communal ways of knowing, intimate politics, and the place-based practices around the Chesapeake Bay. Hess is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at Wilkes University, and pursuing certification as a Master Naturalist. 

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