Pieces of Paper


All my life has been controlled by paper
By getting pieces of paper
A certificate of birth
An immunization card
A report card
A passport
A green card
A social security card
A certificate of naturalization
A driver’s license
A diploma
A dollar
A W-2
An acceptance letter
Another diploma
A letter of recommendation
Another diploma
Another letter of recommendation

A certificate of death?

I have gotten so many pieces of paper
Have made a cozy bed of them to lie my life on
Does that mean I am successful?
Does that mean I am legal?
Does that mean I exist?
Would I cease to, if I hadn’t?

Some of these pieces of paper I frame and put on my wall proudly
Some of them I have worked very hard to get
Why?
I am not scared of hard work
But
Why should I have to prove it by getting them?
Why should I have to get so many more of them just because of where I was born?
Or my skin color?
Or my sex?
What if the value of my life did not depend on obtaining them?
What if the legitimacy of me did not depend on them?
Who decided that it did?

What an incomplete story this is
Where are all my hopes and dreams?
How can my identity be documented, evaluated, and most importantly validated?
Why don’t I question this blind paper quest?
When will I collect enough to stop?

Some of these pieces of paper, not everyone can get
Because of where they were born
Because of their skin color
Because of their sex
But you know what they do get?
A certificate of death

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This Poems Story

This poem came out of me at 2 AM. In the midst of my insomnia I was looking at my diplomas and got to thinking...