Heads (Part I) by Shane McCrae

1. Escaped into the Swamp Then Made His Way Back to His Plantation

500 men in uniforms in army

uniforms 500 slaves     / 500

niggers we happy we nigger

soldiers marched on New Orleans     / And I was there I saw

after we niggers heads on sticks

500 men in stolen uniforms or only

some of us but everything

Even ourselves we touched our touch

made stolen even

our own bodies

In rags of uniforms from living even just     a minute in them

The white folks in the city must have thought

It was something about our skin itself

Made clothes fall off

something about a nigger’s skin

puts holes in everything he wears / 500

men in blood the blood

inside our bodies and the blood the dried

Spray of the blood of the white men we

killed in the night     / And the black skin between

Like almost the

blood of the white men wearing from

the outside the

skin of us niggers

Against the blood inside us

And joy and something less than joy

kept us from washing our skin clean

We niggers we     wanted to be exactly

what the white men thought we were

Kill them with that

and not with who we really were     / And now

I see it now and now I didn’t see it then

Killing them we

made ourselves more

nigger their niggers and they

Killing us after

They made themselves     more innocent

More as

if they were gods I know about their gods

born from our heads on sticks