Hank, If Ever I Were A White Man

Twilight finds me a white man again,
in a bit of a pickle.
And in this painful occupation,
In this second skin,
In this adopted sepulchre of mine,
If ever I prospered well at this classic treachery,
As I do sometimes on my evening prowls on the fish market street,
Where I finally become something truly magical,
I would think upon these fine things:

That somewhere outside this vile black skin that I once owned,
Lay the vast riches pledged by a white Jesus,
For his white nation,
For his brethren with white intentions,
And pink ears,
And big beating Caucasus hearts.

Hank, if ever I were a white man,
I would think upon
The golden liberty that I now abide,
This music in the amber sunset air,
That easy existence.

I would think upon
My Anglo-Saxonness,
The milk and honeyness,
The red-bowed high tincture.
The snowballed social capital,
The ancestry websites,
they know me well.
I am sure I would be ten percent Cherokee,
A third Welsh,
A Norse miracle,
And some other fine viral strain.
I would appreciate,
The bones of my fine ancestors that lay coolly in some field
in Lubeck or Lisa or Tuscany,
By a bragging sea.
Somewhere where blooms and laughing kites rule the skies.

Hank, I will see this vile black people
for what they are in this world,
And I will stand sentry,
I will be all of it,
And none of it.

As I quietly abide this safari society,
Their uproars.
Their fracases.
Their poetry slams.
The loud black man.
The angry black woman.
Their solid grumble with all that they are handed,
The comic relief they supply,
And the other black things they will exhibit,
A way to cope with the agony I designed by hand,
The disease they represent,
An antidote I’ve buried in the ground.

I would recall the silent healthy joy I abide,
From knowing that these here monkeys once called me god,
Sniffing my scent.
Offering me that red beating Negroid heart,
Looking to impress.

Once they cringed with fear in my shadows,
And worse still, in my company.

And that even though I now
pull a big wooden oak cross in the streets,
With my thick sins on its stretched wings,
And bear a leftover evil invented by my slave-owning lifeblood,
I will bless my powerful memorial,
My iron fist,
My blue prints,
My prepaid grace,
My framed vanity.

Imagine the life of me
if one and all were indeed one and the same.
“Equality is expensive”,
I saw on a restroom mirror,
Such steaming wisdom,
Such beautiful melody,
Such ball of white light.
To giggle at the way they exist,
Their chemical dependency,
Their uppity attempts,
To marvel at that fine black reaction,
The ghetto-ness that leaks,
These things hold me in high regard, you see.

Hank, I am baffled still,
For days on end,
Within spitting distance at their very odd aspects,
The black gums,
The black lips,
The wide nostrils,
Their errant hair.
The thingification of a people’s humanity under kings,
Their heroes, and gods, and devils alike.
It is my saving grace,
This powerful contrast.
This utter and complete blackness of a man,
It is a refreshing thing.

But it is not a puzzle, I tell you.
It is god’s silent trial of the bigness of my white heart,
And the texture of my white faith.
And I silently thank him.

Because to exist like a leper,
Is to be black,
On the wrong day,
To be a situation on a cop radio,
A rough garnered obituary on TV,
A red octagon riddled with big bullet holes,
A brown corpse melting in the sun,
A hoodie on a scarecrow,
A cancer on a nation’s plain white tees,
A cold bland woman at the end of a noose,
Slurs from a dusty red van,
Oh, and remember the star-spangled banners —
And the other such commodities that tickle an entire race.
Alas, those things that were always good to me, for me,
Are the things they grovel for, even now.

Because by virtue of a careful scheme,
My stars pooled on the white side of hell,
But I am meek, I tell you, meek.
This clout would be carcinogenic in black hands,
you just watch.
Oh, how damaged the world will be if all of us,
In principle and in skin — were black.

If ever I were a white man,
I would say the word,
Before a restroom mirror when they walk out.

Into my pillow,
When it won’t count.

Among mates.
They know it,
I know it,
We won’t say it,
But for our own damn grace.

Still Hank,
daybreak finds me among other sins,
A Proud Black Man,
In my own red-letter skin,
A familiar estate,
An aromatic heritage with the rightly largess of princes,
A powerful fisherman’s tale that goes on till twilight,
So that, if ever I were a white man,
These things will boil my very soul,
Consume my vulgar slumber,
Offend my spirit.
I am blessed I tell you — blessed.
These things are delicate troubles.
For in truth, I am black twice.

Thankfully, too,
noontime also finds me among other things,
A Proud Black Man,
In my heart lay a beating black nation,
And the powerful things that are the sum of me,
Knowing all that I now know had I been anything but,
I walk with champion shoulders great,
Pulling a deeper consciousness that cues,
That fine bounce in my forward march,
A glint in my third eye.

So that even though cooked
by the constant fight to breathe,
If ever I were a white man in a pickle,
I would accept with grave humbleness,
To never correctly know
what it truly is to happen outside a blessed skin,
And for this,
I would die a little better,
A little grateful,
A little godly,
In a grave by a bragging sea,
With laughing kites above my stone,
As people nearby take fancy pictures with yellow smiles,
And fat babies run in slow-mo.

Imagine the life of us,
If one and all were indeed one and the same.
And the things we would not abide to be anything but,
The man in a bit of a pickle.

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