by Nate Marshall
when i first made my name Nate
i was a boy
at summer camp
looking for cool in the muggy shadow
& so when the white boys snipped Nathaniel
to just a touch of the tongue to the mouth roof
it seemed to me a religious moment,
a new confirmation as okay.
this was 2000 &
you must have been
for decades by then.
years later, i find you
buried in a google search
& follow you silently
for the next year
like a high school crush.
i tell my students about you
the day when we wonder what if
privilege hadn’t put us in
a college classroom.
i tell my ex about you in bed
& it’s convenient that there’s this other
Nate Marshall to be the liar
lying there this time.
i see your failed campaign & watch how your ties
to white supremacists spelled your demise.
my Black history month paper on the Black Panthers
in 3rd grade wouldn’t color me radical enough & i am ashamed
i’ve never been pushed out of a spotlight for loving
my people too much. your day job is roofing & i just watch HGTV
in hotels. you are the truer amongst us Nate. you, peddler of propaganda
& seller of shingles.
can you show me how to love what you love?
every time i’ve said what’s good nigga
it’s possible we’ve matched
our mouths, symmetrical
around the two Gs in the middle.
i won’t lie to you Nate Marshall
or to myself Nate Marshall
i too have hated a nigga & lived
to tweet the tale.
i too have sat suspicious in my basement
wondering who was coming for my country.
i too have googled myself & found a myself
i see you Nate Marshall
& now you’ve left Twitter
after i told my followers to tell you
that they loved you & your book
& your commitment to Black people
& i feel you Nate Marshall.
i’ve left places & loves
when they told me they loved
a Nate Marshall
i didn’t recognize.
Poem copyright 2019 by Nate Marshall. All rights reserved.
See two more poems from Nate Marshall debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle: “another Nate Marshall origin story” and “another Nate Marshall origin story”
Read more in this issue: Interview | Critical Essay | Writing Prompt