When I was 5 or 6 years old,
I came home from school and told my mother
I couldn’t play with Jerome and Michael anymore
because they smelled bad.
“What do you mean, they smell bad?”
“They’re black,” I told her.
“My friend told me not to play with them, because black people
“That’s stupid,” she said.
“Black people don’t smell any different than anyone else. I think she smells bad.”
When I was in middle school, I walked down the hall with my friend Ceaph
on our way to orchestra class.
He played the upright bass,
I played the violin and viola
and people called me NIGGER LOVER now
when they used to just call me short
Bobbie couldn’t play the violin, they said,
because black people don’t do that.
But those people couldn’t play shit
so what did they know?
Why’d they have to come to our school?
The hallways were getting uglier.
She got big titties cause she’s black. Black girls got big titties.
Skinny white me didn’t have any titties, so that one I thought might have been true, a little bit.
You know what goes on over in Dunbar?
I didn’t know what any of that meant.
They smelled like coconut, Jerome and Michael did.
When I’m anxious, I make lists.