Bed Bug


I hopped a train
with a new white suit on my back,
a bed bug on my shoulder
Should I...
Should I
Kill it?
Bound for North

The music changed
while I was on the train,
cuz somebody choked Bessie
and Billie couldn't save her
cuz she was waiting for the blues man
backstage.

I saw the pale hand reach out to me
'I just want to get the bug off...'

North was a fat lazy bitch,
who thought somebody owed her something.

She sang too loud and her song was empty,
but she looked me in my face
with unearned pride
Her cold starry eyes weren't quite blue yet.
I watched her fat flabby arms ripple
like stripes on a phallic pole
She cloaked the freedom cape,
Danced the Watusi with jubilee
and named her kids from an
African name book

North was a greedy bitch.
She swallowed blues,
spit out Jazz
and called it Soul

'Put it back,
put it back! '
I told the white hand.
'White folks
can't stand
to see us
have nothin! '

Put the fucking
bed bug
back
on my shoulder! '

It was
a slow ride
back south.

I welcomed the heat.
Master was gone
cuz he,
couldn't afford
not afford us no more.
But I stayed on
that nameless
plantation
with a whispering willow
dripping a
unsung hero's blood
into a pool
that shown Bessie face.

Took root in an old shack,
and sometimes
basked in the scent
of my old Master
on my pillow,
till I was old,
ugly
and
ornery

daily daring North
to try to take
my South
from me again.

Jessica Holter

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