What Hip-hop Said When I Looked In the Mirror

Willy Palomo

— Mijo,

     no niegas que vienes de mi ombligo.

I was lethal when you was fetal, scratched

     records when you feared needles.

Never had a mirror near you ain’t know shit

     about your people. ¿Were you black,

brown, or illegal? Gringos saw you as below,

     vetoed your voice as feeble, but we know

you was seeing visions like Ezekiel.

     Ain’t talking spinning rims or wallets fat

with c-notes. You were on the camino

     to be more than how they read you.

     Thought it made you more

than your amigos, smoking blunts, high

     on perico. The difference between Jay-Z

and Beanie Sigel. You let your ego lead you.

     Didn’t look in the rearview. I gave you

knowledge of self. You pushed your history

     beneath you. Followed teachers who deceived

you, surrounded by white people. Like I’m not

     why ya feet grew. You ain’t need me

more than I need you. So see-through, thirsty

     for shining. Punk-ass gave up on rhyming.

They called you rapper before a poet. You never rose

     up to own it. Now you say you made it. Son,

tell me how that life taste. Worry less if you spit

     truth. Keep worrying bout “the White space.”

Keep worrying bout magazines none of your family

     reads. You too grown for rap CD’s and bootlegging

MP3’s. Keep calling your silence ruckus. You ain’t

     the first to punk out. Shit, hella brown poets

scared to touch this. You can fool yourself,

     but you never fooled me. If you wan be anything

other than sucker, you go through me. ¿What?

     ¿you forgot ‘bout Lauryn Hill and Nas?

¿Who dafuq you think taught you how to rock?

     To grit, to hustle, to spit like I do.

I should send Nate Marshall to kick the shit

     outta you. You can’t step to the Queen

unless your record be mean. If you run, my heart

     ’ll beat thicker through your chest

and your brain, make letters go lean and hiss

     incredible things, cuz I’m unforgettable

in the ebb and flow of your indelible vein.

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