“Deciding Lineage” by Eugene Elira

Deciding Lineage (mining myself)


Middle passage descendant,
paper Bahamian, photo copy
Ayisyen, Nassuvian

Bahamian with Haitian surname
struggling with alienation
linking negritude and black
crab syndrome and nationalism
and a collection of fragments:
colonial , learnt, chisel from ashes— all
fabricated like a slab of stone



“Where your peoples from”
a name under interrogation
gives up a story you rather hush
shame pops in your throat
and you’re paid a compliment (sort of)
“you don’t look like one”
plantain jaw, creolize tongue, Yoruba
looking with an affinity for Nike shoe
if name didn’t buckle, I would be you
papered through the archipelago



Ever since name turn crown
everyone expects me
to be an expert

on everything Haitian —
I don’t know the half

Turning back, Ivan learn
before Columbus
fumble with maps
these routes were already

Looking around I see
heritage is something sciossored
solid as a rock, crush, grinded to dust
and under it rubble a rubric
of displacement

Eugene Elira is a Bahamian poet of Haitian descent.