Luminous Human (from Eclectica) 

Daffodils (from Panoply)

Racist Grammar

Sometimes people around me use black as an adjective
in a way that isn’t just for color –
As a synonym for other/dangerous/less
and I can’t remember what a dangling participle is
But it seems like it should be that
Intransigent identifier
Hanging every word to follow

Or sentences get prefaced with
Preamblatory phrases followed by contentious conjunctions
“Keeping in mind, I’m not racist, but”
Then the derogatory sentiments unfurl

While friends toss subtle slurs
Into innocuous conversations
Punctuating with a slap on the shoulder and
crowd laughter, trying to discern how much of it is
Uncomfortable, this imperative mood

Feeling like someone’s tossed a hand grenade into the midst
And it’s
Option 1 – I just let it fly
Let the shrapnel go where it may

Option 2 – I pick it up, lob it back
Quick. Knee-jerk defense
Gets met with the response
Like I’m on the offense

Option 3 – I’m stunned into silence
Bystander of verbal violence
My closed mouth
Complicit and coward

Verbal warfare

Then there’s the day I see a stranger on a ladder in my yard
I ask what he’s doing
And he’s screaming at me
That I’m a racist
Instead of being a person asking another person a question

He’s yelling as I’m trying to explain
But he won’t listen or believe me
And I feel strangled
By the antecedent of a society that has pushed
He and I to this point

I desperately want him
To understand my inquisitive
Versus accusative
He wants me to not hide behind
The subjunctive mood of the stereotype he thinks I see
We are stuck, Paralyzed

In a society where politicians perpetuate racist rhetoric
with manufactured statistics and hyperbole

In a society where people promote the pacifism of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
comfortably forgetting to mention his murder

In a society where the mere mention that Black lives matter
is an incendiary notion confusing indicative with superlative

in this third person tense being spoken
no one acknowledging the weight of this squinting modifier
Let us change the syntax of this conversation