Like half the town
I work at “The Comic Book,”
where white men adjust
printing presses and bindery machines
that spew white heroes
Casper, the Friendly Ghost,
while blacks wield brooms, load freight cars.

Six months pregnant
with our first child,
Marian walks to the plant,
our tiny black poodle,
Voodoo, on a leash.
As we stroll home for lunch,
she tells me the dog bit her hard.
We chat about baby names.

Later, I go to Rotary.
The minister sitting next to me says:
You’re the first Jew I’ve ever talked to.

Cloth for royal garments
adorns political ties, stuffed
couches in ornate offices. Men plot
behind brocade screens, use
the cover of dark words to justify
unlimited incarceration.
"I yield to the gentleman from..."

But where is the blood? A rape
of a body,
of a country,
should show blood.
Gates are sewn tightly shut.
With sparkles for the holiday season,
they have a chauffeur cut a limousine
from the herd, mount
its back seat, fade
into the fabric, midwives
of a viper.

A teenager tottering on six-inch heels;
a precise flight of brown pelicans directly
overhead; a wash line of pastel blouses hanging
to dry over an alley; gray lily pads on a foggy lake
at dawn; a smoldering cigarette between first and second
fingers, thumb on filter, manicured nails painted
red; six escargot in bubbling garlic butter; Anna
airborne on the high bar; two mares engaged
in mutual withers-scratching while three cowbirds dance
on the buckskin's back; giant gray-blue waves wind-whipped
by an Atlantic storm; curved contours
of white brick inside a restored lighthouse;
couples' hands in New York City; brown seaweed clinging
around pilings, water reflecting docks and buildings;
an out-of-focus basket of lemons
in an outdoor market; hands exchanging
marbled cheese for euros; the sky yellow and gold
right after sunset on the Gulf; a rusted sewer grate
surrounded by cobblestones; blackberry cobbler
right out of the oven; museum visitors facing
a Van Gogh sunflower, Renoir nude, Pollock's
One, Number 31; meticulously trimmed trees the length
of the Tuileries; a ruin mirrored
in a puddle, monument in a windshield, billboard
in a glass building;
a rare rack of lamb over Israeli couscous.

You’re not
the brightest bulb
     in the box,
     on the porch,
     in the chandelier.
the sharpest
     razor in the pack,
     tool in the shed,
     cheese on the cracker,
the ripest fruit on the vine,
the fastest gun in the west.
You’re a few
    bricks shy of a load,
    sandwiches short of a picnic,
    screws short of a hardware store,
    dimes short of a dollar,
    fries short of a Happy Meal.
Your elevator doesn't go all the way to the top floor;
all your puppies don't bark; the gates are down
and the lights are flashing, but the train isn't coming.
Although you couldn't pour water out of a boot
with instructions on the heel, you’re kind, honest, happy,
and I’m glad you’re my friend.

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