I’m tired of writing poems
about being a black man,
the bitterness that comes
from a dream deferred
and the whiteness of police.
But these stories pay the bills
better than sentimentality
and recalling the first time
I kissed a girl
when I was twelve years old.
It wouldn’t matter anyway
unless I said she was white,
that she didn’t speak to me after
her friends said she’d turn black.
Or how I felt her brother’s fists
when I told him I loved her.
Or that I grew numb by her silence.
One night I carved my thin arms
to peel away layers of history,
so I could turn white and be with her.
I tasted mercury from my veins,
created rivers on the bathroom floor,
and began to drown in the memory of her.
But I can’t write about her kiss
or how when I was with her
I felt the stillness before a thunderstorm,
before lightning claims the air
and rain drowns everything in a single breath.
I have to display the requisite pain
that’s assigned to wearing this skin,
because sentimentality doesn’t sell copies.
David M. Taylor teaches at a community college in St. Louis, MO. His work has appeared in various magazines including Rising Phoenix Review, Trailer Park Quarterly, and Anthology, as well as upcoming in Misfit Magazine. He also has three poetry chapbooks—M&Ms and Other Insignificant Poems, Two Cobras in a Ritual Dance, and Life’s Ramblings.