Monday, March 23, 2015

White plastic  

Pianos and dancing and hands all over me
I started the morning, before the meeting
in the AME church, floating on inclusion 
and soul, and as I went out the front door
a BIG man with lively old eyes, yellow and open -  
like two harvest moons 
looked into my eyes, gave me a BIG handshake;
he was dressed like a wild and friendly unmade bed
with black & gold suspenders and a brick-red bow tie;
he had complete and unhesitant warmth. 

I drove away filled up, the car floating now too, 
towards coffee at Hole Foods, the other side of town. 

When I arrived, I saw a man at a table in the window 
the man I was to talk to,
he was arranging for me to do a poetry reading
(who me? I asked God, in church, are the rest of the poets busy?)
but now I was doing a reading on him;  
I noticed he was very carefully dressed, very 
carefully cub scout-buttoned up, 
the millennial matinee idol of Wes Anderson movies - 
with a mathematically trimmed beard. 

When I got out of my car 
his eyes went up and down on me 
like an elevator, not wanting 
to get off at any floor, 
then he went back to the white plastic on the table. 
I almost got back in the car. But no, though
I left it running. 

I got inside Hole Foods and heard the NPR jingle.  
My ears must have jumped like crickets
and the man must've viscerally divined it,
because he said (still looking down, typing), 
“You don’t care for NPR?”
“Well, let me put it this way. 
Do you know any black people? Ask them 
if they listen to it, and when you get your answer, 
you’ll know mine." 

He looked back up at me, but only about to the mezzanine. 

“Not that I’m black," I said, "but I’m trying." 

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