Published in Kakalak 2018

Bottom Drawer

Dad tore into my room without knocking—drunk?
I’ll rip that book apart if I see it again!
It wouldn’t be the first or last time he dad-handled
anything he didn’t approve of.
He saw the photos of dogs and marchers.
So I hid the library book in my bottom drawer
among the too-short jeans and worn-out socks.

Eleven years after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death,
I’m investigating the fire hoses, Dobermans, black
and white people holding hands.
Dr. King had to keep changing his shoes,
and spent over a week in jail.
Even in third grade I understood he fought
something bigger than him,
and he died for it like JFK, RFK, and John Lennon.

My grandmother used to tell us
about our noble Scottish and English ancestry:
bishops and generals and slave owners.
How we are better than everyone else.
Is it my fault I’m hated at school?
I sigh the book into my backpack, cover down.

I know I’m different when Dad says,
They need a strong hand to keep them in line.
Who? Did he mean Jews, blacks, feminists,
liberals, Democrats—me?