Poetry

To Langston

To Langston:

 

I have darker brothers.

 

They eat in the kitchen,

But only because it’s also the dining room.

 

I eat there too,

White mom,

White dad,

Two white sisters,

And two beautiful black brothers.

 

If you were in our kitchen,

Langston,

You might passively peek

Out the window,

Past the birdfeeder,

And catch the edges of a Confederate flag

Hanging over the neighbor’s’ porch.

 

Flapping proud.

 

Recently we had to talk with my brothers

About how no one,

No one,

Is allowed to call them the

three-words-that-mean-one-word

 

THE-N-WORD

(not “neighbor”)

 

Langston,

I’ve written you to strike a deal:

 

If I take a class on your poetry,

If I learn all I can

And cram for this test called “diversity” that I thought I could

Pass without trouble but actually contains a lot of surprise sections

And an essay on the back….

 

Will you teach my brothers how to be black men?

 

I tell them they’re beautiful,

Langston,

But it’s easy for me to say,

So it’s hard for them to hear.

 

My words may warm them,

But they will not save them.

Replace blankets, maybe,

But not stop bullets.

 

Please speak to them.

For I would pale to Hughes.