(Politics) Becca Shaw Glaser’s I Look Around My Party There’s So Much White, and two more poems

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

you.

 

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

body counts.

 

Dear white people,

I’m done with you.

Dear white people, I’ve hated

myself for such a long time.

Dear white people,

you’re going

 

to have to choose.


 

So Humans

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.

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