"The New Age of Slavery" by Patrick Campbell.
© Please do not reproduce without artist's permission.
by Cortney Lamar Charleston
I'm Not a Racist
I’m a realist: if I see a pack of hoods approaching, loitering,
acting a littering of public sidewalks, I simply
move to the other
side of the street, play it safe. I keep it on me at all times,
for safety purposes.
In the event of open fire,
you’d be a hazard I told them when I, regrettably, couldn’t
allow the lot of them into the party.
We’re part of the same
political party, according to all the numbers I’ve seen.
When I shut the schools down, I was just
doing what must be done
to balance a city budget out of wack. When I put what
I found in his trunk on balance,
it was enough to tip the scale
towards a felony. I used to be a waiter, and they never
tipped very well in my experience.
While we were placing bets,
I noticed him tip his hand ever so slightly and there was
a ̶̶r̶a̶c̶e̶ face card in it. He didn’t seem
like much of a bluffer, so I stood
my ground. On the grounds of merit – that’s how I got
into Yale. I’m just not that into black
girls, personally. I mean, personally,
I don’t SEE color. I’m so sorry, I really didn’t see you there.
There they go, using that word again:
if they can say it, then why can’t I?
I can’t understand why everybody is so sensitive these days.
I admit, what I said sounded a little bit
insensitive, but believe me, I’m not
a racist. I’m a realist: if I see a pack of hoods approaching, loitering,
acting a littering of public sidewalks,
I simply move to the other side.
I keep it on me at all times, for purposes: in the event of a
hazard, open fire I told them, regrettably,
looking at the body splayed before me.
Cortney Lamar Charleston is a Cave Canem fellow and Pushcart Prize nominee based in Jersey City, NJ. His poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Beloit Poetry Journal, Crab Orchard Review, Eleven Eleven, Fugue, Hayden's Ferry Review, The Journal, The Normal School, Pleiades, Rattle, Southern Humanities Review and elsewhere.
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