I have noticed that you say you mean no harm
quite often. That you drop your eyes
and voice, and offer up your open palms.
I’ve watched sincerity climb out
and seat itself there, purring like a cat.
I am aware you say you mean no
disrespect and no offence but _____, yes.
Such an ample, callipygian, well-appointed but.
I have watched you break appointments, plans,
sense, salted bread, and wind.
May your gaze drop out and bounce across the floor
and land beneath the buttocks of a man with hemorrhoids.
May your open palms ooze sweat like oil
and America lay claim to what they find.
May they start this with an open-cut coal mine.
May cats and dogs and children avoid you
and birds void above you.
May amorous flocks of sheep
acost you daily in public places
until you flinch at the very thought of wool
and ugg boots strike you numb with dread.
May all your words repeat six times in your own head,
so that, so that, so that, so that, so that, so that.
It’s one of those exercises that works really well in class – it always surprises people. I think it’s because we’re used to trying to be nice all the time.
This draft is heavily based on Martin Espada’s glorious poem “For the Jim Crow Mexican Restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts Where My Cousin Esteban Was Forbidden to Wait Tables Because He Wears Dreadlocks”. Quite apart from having a superb title, it manages to be both funny and menacing.