I Am Clothed By Melanin!


You tell me to strip and to hide my shame,
I try not to notice that you are standing there.
You point out my distinguishing marks.
I cannot look at you and so at the wall, I stare.

You make a note of the tattoo on my right shoulder.
And now, I am to squat, spread my cheeks and cough.
Stripped bare of my clothing and of my dignity.
the last vestiges of my humanity has been castoff.

I stand naked and bewildered in the new slave market,
and I wait for the punishment that I know is in store.
For Massa is an evil and twisted bastard without a heart.
To him, I have always been an animal and I can’t even the score.

Herded to the showers, how can I ever become clean again?
No hope of a reprieve for I am handed over to my enemy.
Where is my salvation and where is the white man’s god?
But I am no longer a man, a number is now my identity.

When will the laws of the white man be applied to him?
I look out and see a sea of faces with complexions like mine.
How is it that all of us are bad and hid away from society?
Why hate me because I am not like you, pink like swine?

Stare at my nakedness and still I am clothed by melanin.
Try and shame me if you will but your nakedness is a blight
Your paleness defies the same sun that blessed me with beauty.
I stand before you in all my naked glory even in the harshest light.

You cannot destroy me though you try and whip me into subjugation.
I am a trial to you because I will not bend and break from torture.
As cruel as you are, I am the one who must pay in isolation.
But you will not strip my people of our true and beautiful culture.

Live my people and flourish though I remain behind these bars.
Do not mingle with that which must destroy your freedom.
For only by destroying you will Massa feel he has power.
Never give in for one day, you shall rule your kingdom.

Written by,
Shelby I. Courtland
©2014 Shelby I. Courtland

10 thoughts on “I Am Clothed By Melanin!

  1. Another fine, evocative piece, Shelby. I never get that need so many of us have to degrade others, to destroy them completely. Are cold hearts so empty they have to fill them with the thrill of power and conquest, or must they grind us down to their depraved level to maintain that illusion that they alone are worthwhile and superior? I never totally understand people — I sometimes feel I should just stick with plants. – Linda


    1. Linda, I hear you and I too, can never understand and quite frankly I don’t want to understand how ‘humans’ can get such a kick and a thrill and quite obviously get their jollies off in degrading and humiliating people when in fact, if the shoe were on the other foot, they’d be looking to sue for the same insults that they are heaping on others. We’ve got some sick shit running every goddamn thing and as twisted and vile and nasty as this shit is, it is no wonder that people who go to prison, if they come out, turn into something unrecognizable, in many instances. It is because of the horrors that they have been subjected to on the inside of those hellholes. We saw a little of what went down in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. That was just the tip of the iceberg and that same shit that was torturing those innocent people are installed in prisons all across this nasty ass fucked up sinking, stinking shithole barge called America.

      …and like you, I too wish that I could just stick with plants. However, my garden came to nothing this year and I should have known better because I’ve got a purple thumb when it comes to growing things. I sometimes think that I really am from some ‘demon’ seed because almost every living thing around me, dies. My mother, when I bought my first house, came over and filled it with plants. Two weeks later, they were all dead. She came over and took a look around and gasped, “what the hell?” So, she left and came back with some more plants that she said even I couldn’t kill. Well, let’s just say, she had to give up. One plant was so bad off, maggots was falling from it. Mother had hung a plant on a hook in the living room and I came in from work one day and I saw something squirming around on the floor. It was maggots. I started jumping up and down and screaming and went to a neighbor’s house and they got it out of there for me. Have mercy!

      When I moved to a different state, my cousin gave me a poinsettia for Christmas because he thought it would look so nice on my pedestal. I told him not to give it to me because I knew what would happen. When he came to see me three days later, the poinsettia was digging its own grave. I am fucking hopelessly cursed with some shit. My cousin, when I’m out of town, comes to my house to check on it, he claims there is an atmosphere that makes him run in and run out. I have told him that when I come home and open the door, you can hear the hounds of hell yapping and carrying on. I’m like an animal trainer with a chair, screaming, “Get back you hellish motherfuckers!”

      …and once again, Linda! I ain’t braggun’, I’m just sayun!

      Thank you so much for your comment! I am SO bad! I guess that is why I can calm the beasts from hell ’cause I’m worse than they are! LMAO!!!


  2. Shelby, Oh, what a shame — perhaps you’re simply incompatible with plants. I have personally killed more greenery than kudzu and potato blight, but it’s been mostly limited to certain species. I love fragrant roses, as a sad example, but I CAN’T! STAND! rosebushes, (especially all the spraying and fussing they seem to demand or else they sulk and deliberately develop lethal, disgusting fungus problems), and few survive me for very long. Maybe you have so much energy and passion swirling about that you make plants uneasy? I find most of them restful and good company myself. They have their needs, and they are generally easier to grasp than the needs and self-destructive cravings of us over-complicated humans. I have great respect for critters that have survived for millions of years without trashing our planet. And call me crazy, but I just enjoy the darn things! Okay, end of rant — time to get out and water something. – Linda


    1. Linda, I ain’t compatible with nothing except a champagne flute. I get bored real easy and the poor men who have the misfortune to cross my path, rue the day they ever did ’cause when I’m bored with ’em, I simply tell them to get ta steppin’. When they ask why, I say, “because you bore me dahlin’! I am NOT a nice person. And again, I ain’t braggin’, I’m just sayun’.


  3. Very powerful poem, Shelby. One of your best. It’s impossible to capture the horrendous brutality of our prison system in prose. It’s only possible to do it in poetry. Only poetry has the capacity to call the appropriate imagery to mind – which you do very nicely here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Dr. Bramhall. And still I know that I did not do what actually goes on inside those hellish institutions, dare I say, “justice?” I just cannot imagine what those people go through and even though I know that prison holds other bodies than Black ones, we make up the majority of the prison population and what a sad and horrible factual statistic that is.

      I don’t give a goddamn if ISIS or IBIS or ICIS and BISI bring their ass over here and fuck this shit up. It wouldn’t fuck up my motherfucking day. But the truth is, that made-up government shit is another diversion and smokescreen just like all of this talk about Ebola and vaccines and all the other bullshit. This Titanic is sinking fast and we’ve got to be distracted from the fact that we are going down. The fact is that there are NO jobs that pay a living wage and that there are never going to be ANY jobs that pay a living wage. There are going to be millions more homeless, millions of people even with Obamacare still lack health insurance. I was talking to my driver just the other day and since he is an independent contractor, the company he works for does not pay for his health care. He and his wife both work 70 hours a week and neither of them can afford health insurance and even though they have kids, they still don’t qualify for ObomboCare because they make too much money. Now, ain’t that a bitch?

      This fucking shit is going to the dogs and we’ve got to be kept distracted from that and don’t forget, every store in America has been hacked and some, several times over. Goddamn security breaches are occurring left and right and since every merchant uses the same security system, there ya go. Every goddamn body’s shit is hacked. But this stupid shit is gonna line up again come Black Friday and fucking get hacked again! You can’t fix stupid and Americans have always won the gold when it comes to being stupid!

      But thank you so much for that glowing compliment on this poem. It really means a lot to me!


      1. Obamacare is going to bite Americans in the ass if hospitals and public health officials don’t get their act together. The only reason Thomas Duncan was sent away from the emergency room the first time he presented was because he was poor and black and had no health insurance.

        Nevermind that he spoke with a distinct West African accent, the doctor that saw him never thought to ask him where he was from and how recently he had been in Liberia.

        If other hospitals carry on in this manner, that ebola virus is going to spread really quickly right across the entire country.


  4. Dr. Bramhall, I am not afraid of Ebola. I’m just not. So many people are dying from cancer and having toes and feet chopped off due to diabetes and then die from that. In fact I was a flower girl at a funeral for a young man who simply gave up because he had diabetes so bad. He died at the grand old age of 25. There are people, walking around hooked up to oxygen. There are people breathing through tubes while in wheelchairs. And I’m going to worry about some virus that if I get it, yeah, I guess it will be painful for the few days to a couple of weeks that it would take me to keel over from it, but it sure beats what cancer patients have to endure. I’ve seen patients hooked up to machines who had emphysema and I’ve seen dialysis patients get so tired of going three days a week to get treatment, they give up and then drop dead. We’re all going to die and we don’t get to choose our way out of here in many instances.

    There have been plagues and epidemics down through the years and there will be more. We want to think that we have come such a long way in advancements in the medical field from the days of the Black Plague, but we really haven’t. Not to change the subject, but just to point out how far we have NOT come is the fact that dentists use basically the same instruments to pull teeth as they did when the first dentist put up a shingle. Health care in the U.S. has always been a joke that’s not very funny because here, the medical field is still using the same shit to ‘care’ for patients. What the fuck’s changed? Not much and that’s a fact.

    I’m probably the ‘walking dead’ now because when I was brought to the hospital via the ambulance after having been in a major highway pileup, I was CT scanned AND x-rayed from head to toe and when I was finally able to come around, I was told what my injuries were and what had been done to me. They fucking kill you in order to find out what the hell’s wrong with you. We are damned no matter what is headed here, be it ISIS militants carrying Ebola or people flying to and fro.

    So, I say live instead of continuing to keep this ‘fear mongering’ alive and scaring the hell out of people. Again, face the fact that WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE, EVENTUALLY from something and nine times out of ten, we will NOT go out with a fucking smile on our face. We fucking need to accept it and come to terms with it!


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