(old poem I found in an old laptop)
What’s up faggot?
I untangled my headphone cords
Walking to the bus stop,
Professional New Yorker.
As my fingers unspooled knots.
Gathering inside a question.
Looking right nor left,
I couldn’t tell whether he was
On the phone, speaking to a friend,
Or talking to me. But to look up
Is to acknowledge.
Any schoolyard bully knows
That trick. I continued to gather
The string of cord in my left hand
Untangling dangling white
Lines as I caught him looking
Out on the sidewalk. Either toward
Me or the guy behind me,
Both of us rushing past him
Past the slur sent to
Trigger some response.
He mumbled something
I slowed down, do I dare
Turn? The other pedestrian
Sped past me, his headphones
Firmly entrenched and blasting
Loud hideous chaos
Into the outerspace of Queens.
There is a place where this word lives.
I don’t live there, but I visit.
This neighborhood of niggers, faggots, spics,
Whops, degos, chinks, Curry heads,
Rain dancers, butt-scratching Africans
Dijibouti-looking, Soup-bowl African black,
The sun never comes round these parts
Derogatory slurs and arrows.
The sun doesn’t live here.
An experiment percolated in my head and I thought
What if this is all a game?