Black As…

Dad is black

Black as tar

And then some more

He’s not a slave

But who can tell for sure

Cause he’s black

Sometimes blacker

Than a moonless night


My father, he works for money

And some says he’s free

He wears a linen suit

But they still look at him

Like he has an osnaburg shirt

Hanging from his back

He lives now where

People are whiter

And say Black Lives Matter

To think this needed saying

He lives in a land foreign

To his manners and foreign to his ways

Where there are more people fair

Than people of color

But it is the colored ones

That somehow fill the streets

And the shops

And the roads


My father has no shackles

He is more free than

He was on his land

Where his brothers tied to each other

Lacerated laid

Cried and cursed

And bit their tongues for measure

Dad, darker than the pit

His maroon ancestors were shoved into

Maroon in color

Maroon because they chose freedom

To an ear

To a hand

And sometimes to life


My father gets a wage

And still he weeps

And counts his cents

In his scorched fingers

While his ancestors

Manacled, and creatively collared

Bestowed wealth for generations

On their headsman

And gave mum all the gold-plated

Jewelries he could buy

While the white wife of his boss

Adorned in gold

From his father’s country

Admires mum’s modest taste

For cheap ornaments


My dad, as black as a street without lighting

Wears a hat when he goes out

A hat with no distinction

Just a hat because of the sun

Or to show a pretense

Of success

Where in the lands of the white

He survives

And he does not wear the beret I bought him

Because this still does not fit his black head


My dad, black still,

Blacker than a dead end

He wears shoes

Not fetters

Nor does he go about barefoot

His feet are still branded

But now with names like Adidas and Skechers

Because of his bad black back

And he proudly walks the

Brick road built under

Whips by his grandfather

And carrying the name

Of the white whipper

Who sweated his ass

Beating a pulp out of the lazy

Brown bastards


My dad lives in a country

Where there is equality

They say

And something similar to fraternity

Because it comes with an asterisk

*only among same race, or status

Can be read with a glass that magnifies

A thinly erased ostracism


My dad puts his feet on an ottoman

And watches Netflix

The People v. O. J. Simpson

He roots for O. J

Because as the jury

He is a biased black

Because the black jury did not

Could not

Make a logical decision

The blacks they think with their hearts

The blacks, they wanted to settle the score

And though the gloves did not fit

And they were not convinced

Beyond reasonable doubt

They had to condemn the black to be fair

Because he murdered the white woman

And he is guilty

Because as the other only white woman

Whitesplained in the black bar

To all the other blacks

In their black language

Can’t you see he is guilty

Because I am usually right

Because blacks don’t watch Seinfeld

And don’t go to the same shops as us

They are mentally segregated the blacks

My dad is black too

And he watches Seinfeld


My father he buys his brown bread

In the same shop for 60 years

And “money first” they say to him

For 60 years

And for 60 years, they look at him snidely

When his brown hand drops a note

In the tip jar

Cause he is playing above his status

Cause my dad is black

As the skin of the river

In a starless night

And he is acting white


My father is black,

As black as a craven raven

With clipped wings

Scavenging on scraps

Thrown to him with pompous magnanimity

A handful of millet from the left palm

And few eggs taken with the right hand


My dark father

As dark as a day with an eclipse

Cannot end his days

In the sun of his birth country

Because the white needs a home everywhere

One in the metropolis

And one near the seaside

And the blacks and natives

Can continue tradition

By cleaning their houses

And tending their gardens

On the land

Where black forefathers stumbled and dripped blood

The white children now build their palaces

And pay for years of servitude

With their white smiles

Doesn’t History repeat itself?

My father’s skin is covered

In black mold

Because he does not have a place

Under the sun he was born

His beaches now covered with deckchairs

And white people

Who sees no sarcasm

In wanting a bronzéed skin

While my father

Dies a vassal in the cold

Winter land of thieves and usurpers



Dad is black

As black as cocoa

Not dark coffee

Or roasted coffee

Or coffee with cream

How much cream?

He is not latte or cappuccino

He does not froth

Or foam

He is just black

As black as the mosquito

Seething in white milk

My father is negro black

There I have said it


Doctoral student in comparative literature at the University of Clermont Auvergne, Quraishiyah Durbarry has so far ventured into several genres, including poetry, novel, and drama. A bilingual author, Quraishiyah writes in both English and French. She was Co-Laureate and Laureate of the Writing Prize for the Passe Portes Festival of the European Union in 2015 and 2016 respectively.