Complexions of Being

We are complexions of being,
gradations of actualization.
Our nature coming to be or passing away,
Aristotle wrote.

Mere complexions of being,
gradations of ontology.
In every American thing we claim to know,
Pigment is the currency,
Our petty underlying divisor,
Our pixelated property.
The color line preserves white privilege.

We are complexions of being,
gradations of realization.
From The Age of Enlightenment
followed the epoch of enslavement,
Our white patriots traded in commodified skins,
Learning how an emboldened empire wins,
Learning how merchants on the take use race.
So their destiny was manifest,
Genocide was their bequest.

In their path, all traces of different races
Necessarily disappeared,
The indigenous people they feared.
Hunted, murdered, and jeered,
White entitlement forgot them all and moved on.

We are complexions of being,
gradations of sentience.
Quickly unraveling before breakfast,
Whites come alive, staggering like air dancers,
Inflated gas bags thrashing, and lurching,
At their dealerships, certain something sensational
Is happening somewhere.
The reasons never explicated,
The false complexion dichotomies
will never transfer power.
Until there is no white or black,
Until we are gradations of one,
Until we see our shades of immanence.

Thomas Wells’s poetry book “Complexions of Being” was recently released by Yorkshire Publishing. His poetry credits also include Caesura Journal, PS: It’s Poetry, Vols. I & II, an international poetry anthology, Dissident Voice, The Magnolia Review, The Opiate, and Tuck Magazine. Over several decades, his poems have appeared in Visions International, Cafeteria, Gargoyle, and West End Magazine. In 1982, he published his first chapbook of poetry titled "Native Steel" through Black Buzzard Press. He is a member of The Poetry Center of San Jose, California. Read other articles by Thomas.