The Black Sheep
by Karen Finley
Copyrighted 1991 by Karen Finley Reprinted by Permission of City Light Books

After a funeral someone said to me
You know I only see you at funerals
it's been three since June --
been five since June for me.
He said I've made a vow --
I only go to death parties if I know someone
before they were sick.
Why?
'cause -- 'cause -- 'cause I feel I feel so
sad 'cause I never knew their lives
and now I only know their deaths
And because we are members of the
Black Sheep family.

We are sheep with no shepherd
We are sheep with no straight and narrow
We are sheep with no meadow
We are sheep who take the dangerous pathway through
the mountain range
to get to the other side of our soul.
We are the black sheep of the family
called Black Sheep folk.
We always speak our mind
appreciate differences in culture
believe in sexual preferences
believe in no racism
no sexism
no religionism
and we fight for what we believe but
usually we're pagans.
There's always one in every family.
Even when we're surrounded by bodies
we're always alone.
You're born alone
and you die alone --
written by a black sheep.
You can't take it with you --
written by a former black sheep.

Black Sheep folk look different from their families --
It's the way we look at the world.
We're a quirk of nature --
We're a quirk of fate.
Usually our family, our city,
our country never understands us --
We knew this from when we were very young
that we weren't meant to be understood.
That's right, that's our job.
Usually we're not appreciated until the next generation.
That's our life, that's our story.
Usually we're outcasts, outsiders in our own family.
Don't worry -- get used to it.
My sister says -- I don't understand you!
But I have many sisters with me here tonight.
My brother says -- I don't want you!
But I have many brothers with me here tonight!
My mother says -- I don't know how to love
someone like you!
You're so different from the rest!
But I have many mamas with me here tonight!
My father says -- I don't know how to hold you!
But I have many many daddies with me here tonight!
We're related to people we love who can't say
I love you Black sheep daughter
I love you Black sheep son
I love you outcast, I love you outsider.
But tonight we love each other
That's why we're here --
to be around others like ourselves --
So it doesn't hurt quite so much.
In our world, our temple of difference
I am at my loneliest when I have something to celebrate
and try to share it with those I love
but who don't love me back.
There's always silence at the end of the phone.
There's always silence at the end of the phone.

Sister -- congratulate me!
NO I CAN'T YOU'RE TOO LOUD.
Grandma -- love me!
NO I DON'T KNOW HOW TO LOVE
SOMEONE LIKE YOU.
Sometimes the Black Sheep is a soothsayer,
a psychic, a magician of sorts.
Black sheep see the invisible --
We know each other's thoughts --
We feel fear and hatred.
Sometimes some sheep are chosen to be sick
to finally have average, flat, boring people say
I love you.
Sometimes Black sheep are chosen to be sick
so families can finally come together and say
I love you.
Sometimes some Black Sheep are chosen to die
so loved ones and families can finally say --
Your life was worth living
Your life meant something to me!
Black Sheeps' destinies are not necessarily in having
families, having prescribed existences --
like the American Dream.

Black Sheeps' destinies are to give meaning in life
to be angels
to be conscience
to be nightmares
to be actors in dreams.

Black Sheep can be family to strangers
We can love each other like MOTHER
FATHER SISTER BROTHER CHILD
We understand universal love
We understand unconditional love
We feel a unique responsibility, a human responsibility
for feelings of others.
We can be all things to all people
We are there at 3:30 AM when you call
We are here tonight 'cause I just can't go to sleep.
I have nowhere to go.
I'm a creature of the night --
I travel in your dreams --
I feel your nightmares --

We are your holding hand
We are your pillow, your receiver
your cuddly toy.
I feel your pain
I wish I could relieve you of your suffering.
I wish I could relieve you of your pain.
I wish I could relieve you of your destiny.
I wish I could relieve you of your fate.
I wish I could relieve you of your illness.
I wish I could relieve you of your life.
I wish I could relieve you of your death.
But it's always
Silence at the end of the phone.
Silence at the end of the phone.
Silence at the end of the phone.


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