Broken Ghazal
in the voice of my brother Jacob
By Aaron Samuels

Irrefutable fact / my brother is black jewish
Kink hair & a wide nose / that’s gotta be black, jewish

He said look in the mirror / naked / if it ain’t black—jewish
                               If we don’t do it to ourselves / first / then they do it to us

Said he loves countin’ stacks / is that black? / jewish?
Said we loves eating chicken cause we black-jewish!

Said, you gotta keep it real / listen to black music
If you wanna keep your teeth / you ain’t allowed to act jewish

And that’s jewish / Night of the broken glass jewish
They’ll beat your face in with a bat / until its black. jewish

They raped your great grandma, and that’s a fact, jewish
Say a prayer for the secrets your family keeps, Kaddish

See Aaron, you run / but I learned to attack: jewish
                               In order to survive, you gotta be black, stupid

Let ‘em tattoo my arm, that’s how I act Jewish
That’s how I be black / but that’s not what you did

Got yourself a “good job,” where nobody’s black / jewish
Cut the slang off your tongue / it’s too black; jewish

And, you never came home / Aaron / where it’s black-jewish
And not coming home / is black

Kevin convinced me to drink
By Aaron Samuels

the bottle, a brown eyeball daring me to blink.
I was fourteen and unsure how I felt about white people
but I knew I didn’t like beer, especially beer pong

Kevin was white, and liked beer. He said
it’s what men do. They drink beer and watch sports
and get into fights or else they are a pussy

I remember thinking this must be racist in a way
against women. I had never seen a pussy before
or any type of vagina, but I knew what a pussy was

from the movies we all watched at Kevin’s house.
In seventh grade, Brandon took off everything
except his sneakers, chased us around the house

a beer in one hand, his pinkish-white gentiles
in the other. We ran around screaming and laughing
while he called us gay and threatened to cream on us

I giggled and said that must be racist
against gay people and probably women,
and we ate hot pockets,

Kevin grabbed a couple of brewskies from his dad’s stash
said, you don’t seem that black to me,
and punched me in the chest.

By Aaron Samuels

The last time I left Kevin’s house,
he spray painted the word Jew
on his basement wall,

then announced to the room
he had fucked my ex-girlfriend
as he threw paint cans at my nose,

dared me to do something.

After he said mercy and I pulled
my thumbs from his neck,
he punched the back of my head,

grabbed the metal chain
around my throat, & forced my face
into his wooden stairs.

When I clawed out of Kevin’s house
dirty and covered in blood;
the sun swept into my eyes,

like I was seeing Edgewood
for the first time.

Aaron Samuels, raised in a Black-Jewish household in Providence Rhode Island, is an award-winning poet, educator, and community organizer. Aaron has performed his work for the last six years, ranking among the top poets in the youth, collegiate, and national competitions. He has served as a coach for the Providence, Washington DC, and Boston Youth Poetry teams. Aaron was the founder and coach for the Washington University collegiate and adult teams. As an educator, Aaron stresses the urgency for cross-cultural dialogue, teaching writing workshops at schools and community organizations across the country. Aaron has been a featured speaker and performer for TV One’s Verses & Flow, the Louder than a Bomb Chicago Youth Poetry Festival, the Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival, the Urban Word Preemptive Education Conference, and the St. Louis Amnesty International Poetry Reading. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Tidal Basin Review, Mandala Journal, Sole Literary Journal, Muzzle Magazine and Stark Literary Journal. Aaron’s first book of Poetry, Mutually Assured Destruction, has been described as “both a personal reflection on the intersections of race and faith, and an unrelenting critique of U.S. Empire” as it dives into the confluences of race, religion, class and gender in the modern world. His next book, Yarmulkes and Fitted Caps, will be released on Write Bloody Publishing in August 2013.