Mistaken Identity

No distinguishable features
or religious symbols adorned
nothing but skin color
and shame
he has no culture
even if I never felt it before
I have what other people hold onto

the sound of turmoil as
men in some room sit
and redraw Eastern European
cities, homes, identities
of people I come from

I have tasted salt in the air
when boats dragged themselves
through the mud of the sea
to get my grandfather’s grandfather
away from Russian chains
to Canadian veil
separating known from new

Held dirt beneath my feet
pride and pain
that went into forming moss
that sits on stones
that make up walls
of Irish glass castles
still lingering in its bones

The difference between history and culture
isn’t something worn
doesn’t live on your skin
or get buried with the past
it’s words walking off tongues
churning pots of stories
that touch on the feeling of memories
and find a home in you


Third-year transfer student at UC Santa Barbara Jakob (Jack) Greenberg is a 23-year-old with a keen interest in improving the lives of others. His interest pertains to food distribution, food security, and restorative justice. Jack's poems have no central theme but often hold a historical, familial, or philosophical connotation.