By KB Brookins

This country lied I mean told a story
'bout me. I'm sorry. He said
I am some nigga from the hood
that asks for too much, less than
70 years after integrating schools.
Less than 70 days after banning
books that tell folk he
segregated schools. She said I am a liar
I mean a tattle tale cause I'm
telling you, but I'm TELLING YOU, mama,
she spent 400 years telling tales
'bout slavery. I mean that they sinning,
not me. Anything I've done, they did
more times 10. I can't believe [any
pronoun] telling tales 'bout me. Ain't
Killing, Erasing, or just plain old
Lying a better word for it? Mamie,
you have to believe me.
I believe you. Say sorry.

KB Brookins is a Black, queer and trans writer and cultural worker from Texas. Their chapbook How To Identify Yourself with a Wound (Kallisto Gaia Press, 2022) won the Saguaro Poetry Prize. KB’s poems and essays are published in Poets.org, Huffington Post, American Poetry Review and elsewhere. They have earned fellowships from PEN America, Civil Rights Corps and Lambda Literary, among others. Brookins’ debut memoir PRETTY (Alfred A. Knopf) will arrive in 2024, and they are a 2023 National Endowment of the Arts fellow.

“TattleTale” is from Freedom House, Brookins’ debut full-length poetry collection that will be out on June 6. Pre-order a copy here and read a review of the chapbook here. The poem is reprinted with permission from Deep Vellum.

Overwhelming in the