I look around my party there’s so much white
By Becca Shaw Glaser
skin and everyone drinking or laughing
parties aren’t so bad it’s just that I’m older now
and angrier or less angry and I worry I’m going crazy
because I’m trapped by my landlords who won’t leave
and I don’t want to see them or talk to them and I don’t want them to see me
so I’ve barricaded all the windows and even my plants are starting to suffer
but I spy on them
and their adorable middleclass kids using walkie-talkies
in the reflection in my toaster oven
because my breath is stuck in my throat until
they drive away for the day in their silver Prius
disposable coffee cups placed on the car top and the doors flung open
waiting for the little disorderly family and the little Manhattanite doggie
to climb in though we’re not allowed to even have a cat or gerbil or turtle here
I’m always getting myself into these situations
and I think about all the parties I’ve ever been to which is quite a few
from the fancy Democratic fundraisers in Upper Eastside arm-trophy
Whitney Board of Directors apartments for small-town Maine island politicians
hallways speckled with tiny unhung Basquiats and Lady Pinks leaning
against the baseboards
to the ones where I was the server of tiny hamburgers on buns
with my hair pulled back and my biggest faking-it lead-red-lipped smile
plying calories to skinny women who refused
to even meet my eyes
to the ones where I was throwing up on the way to the bathroom
and the ones where my two
middle-school friends and I played Boggle til midnight
and I wonder sometimes
if I’ve come very far at all
since that time I got stuck in the coatroom
at a party outside of Boston twenty years ago. I sat there for hours,
a dictionary open in my lap.
When people came to search for their jackets,
sometimes we entered into an intimacy. They were lonely too.
Dear white people,
I’m going to be nice about this. Fuck
Dear white people tanning
your skin. Hammering a Habitat for Humanity nail.
Flipping a dollar menu burger. Shooting
a twelve-year-old. Carving a razor
down your wrist.
I’m having a tea party.
I’m wearing a black velvet dress.
This is the skin of an animal.
I am sipping earl grey. I am cutting a scone
in half, the crumbles drop onto the porcelain
plate, I am spreading churned milk and raspberry jam.
I am lifting the whole thing
to my mouth.
Did I say fuck you yet?
Do you want ten steps to easy penitence?
I’m not saying sorry.
I’m chewing and then I’m farting.
Please don’t think I’m racist.
Power speaks in a soft
voice. We don’t do
Dear white people,
I’m done with you.
Dear white people, I’ve hated
myself for such a long time.
Dear white people,
to have to choose.
my brother shows me the aquarium of roaches
their long gloriously firm ancient crawling bodies.
he says once he hadn’t fed them for weeks
and when he came back a ripped-off leg was still moving.
would you like to keep moving like that or are you giving up
and wanting the fuck out of this world sooner? in a way i can’t blame you
but i don’t like when people vote for death it is like if we can just ride this out together
maybe we’ll be our best interconnected selves but i
can’t get over the bees dying.
when i look at a catalpa tree that once used to buzz
the whole thing a voluptuous sexy mass of vibrating long-tongued speckled
white flowers now it’s notable when a single bee is cupped inside a bud.
they say the bees might be completely gone within three generations
of course people want to get the hell out.
i am telling you
being human has meant to take and to love and in loving has meant to bend over
the warm rock and be inside all that is perfect and yet when you looked around
you realized it was still an unfriendly and violent place to anyone besides the well-off white
people and even the friend’s child you had watched grow from a funny-headed baby
became a teenager thinking nazis cool, transgressive.
i want to tell him i would have been one of those clawing
for the door in the gas chamber.
and he’d have carefully placed the lumps of zyklon b.
maybe in different circumstances, i would have done it too.
still the question of what is a poem for
to break open the world people trapped in prisons
or solace like a balm you take at night
driving the long road home with easy listening
on the stereo oozing into that blank space a kind of leopard print omelet
in the morning with the eggs broken over the silver bowl
or like an advice column where she tells you what to do with your shame your self doubt.
so humans will die out does it really matter
it matters that we went out with a kind of inequality
where i had a laptop on my thighs at night and listened to the crow and the car
and the rain and you went out with two children dying of dysentery
and my call for revolution was a tinny white voice down the long hallway
of the city and in time
i went back where my smallness was not a problem
and everyone was glad to see i had made nests in my hair
where i was raising my own montessori waldorf gentle kind inquisitive
block-stacking children and we ate five walnuts and one avocado each
popped pills for the ache of our brains
and did zumba in the radiant floor livingrooms to keep our bodies just the right kind
of middle class small
and meanwhile the bees the bats the frogs the lions the bears
were shrunken cartoons on gluten-free gorilla crunch cereal boxes.
i am telling you
being human has meant to take and to love and in loving
has meant to bend over the warm rock and be inside all that is perfect
and yet when you looked around
you realized you were just a leg torn off, still twitching.
Becca Shaw Glaser’s writing has been published or is forthcoming in Black Clock, Lemon Hound, Vinyl Poetry, H.O.W., Entropy, xoJane, The Rumpus, Spoon River Poetry Review, Birdfeast, Luna Luna, The Laurel Review, Two Serious Ladies, Porn Studies, Quaint, New South, and other publications.