Monday, January 18, 2016

poem of the day 01.18.16


bryant oliver
was the only black kid in my grade
back in the 1980s
when reagan was all the rage
in poor neighborhoods and in central america
reagan’s hate was a benevolent one
he fought a war on drugs
and put millions of dads and sons and brothers in jail
bryant was a basketball star
and a football star
if our school had a baseball team
he probably would’ve excelled at that too
bryant didn’t like me for some reason
it might’ve been because
i was fat and i acted dumb
like funny dumb
i tried to be the funny fat kid
who did voices and disrupted classes with jokes
some kids laughed
but i was used to the hate from many others
i had a lot of hate inside of me
which i took out on myself with my fists
pounding my stomach in my parent’s bedroom mirror
my hate turned black and blue and yellow
my friend, billy calvin
he hated bryant as much as bryant hated me
maybe more
billy called bryant  nigger lips in class
he called him porch monkey
whispered it to him while we were learning u.s. history
billy said bryant ate watermelon
hog jogs and possum grits
billy had a lot of hate in him
which came from his old man
but he was learning to make it his own
billy hated blacks and asians and anyone
that wasn’t white and didn’t listen to metal
there weren’t any asian kids in our school
for billy to hate
but sometimes he still slanted his eyes
and said, oh, so solly
i never understood why bryant
didn’t beat the shit out of billy
why he sat there and took it
with that steely look i’ll never forget
it probably had a lot to do
with being the only black kid in our grade
a two sport star
but you were never sure who your real friends were
you never knew where hate would come from next
i think bryant took his hate for billy
and transferred it to me
pushing me on the playground
and calling me fat ass in front of all the pretty girls
although i never laughed or commented
on a thing billy said
and to this day i still don’t know
what hog jogs and possum grits are
it’s easier for me to understand it now
all that hate from back then
living as an adult in a world of endless war and murder
plastic people and diet fads
sold-off politicians and police brutality
violence toward children
and especially women
hate is an easy emotion
when you’re still fighting the war on drugs
you can turn it on or off on a dime
or you can let it fester until it kills you
and everything you love
only you won’t be able to tell
love is much harder
it’s harder to hold onto love than it is hate
it’s life’s greatest failure
you really have to work for love
like a lifetime
longer than bryant or billy or i had
back in those salad days of ronald reagan
when quiet insults flew like bombs over libya
and we didn’t learn a thing from our shared history
other than to learn how to hate
talking out of our asses
with the excellence
of smiling, bashful honor roll kids


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