Michael Brown

I walk into the room and see them and
smile and put down my bag and say
“Hey” and they frown and they say
“Did ya’ hear?” and I shake my head and

I know before they say it—something in the back of me,
like an SMH tweet I read the next morning about “Progress”
and Rodney King on a monitor half the size of the table
when Jenny asks “Why they do that, teacher?”
and I’m already into the middle of the week—
after the 10 freeway’s been shut down and Aaron says
“They need to take the protest to people who don’t want to hear it!”

Trying to find the right poem for another class—
I read Donald Glover’s tweets about being a “big white rapper”
and I laugh and think that’s the perfect one:

For someone who laughs and bumps students around him after Billy Elliot kisses a boy, until an older girl in the theater shouts 
that he’s “out of control” and we know her idea of “control”
is the same as ours without saying it.

For Ahman, I think.

I copy and paste the piece into MS Word and think about what they will say all the way down Wilshire into the Language School, where Jenny tells us what she thinks of America and back across Rossmore to the performing arts college where they sit with their backs to me—

and I wonder if I make any difference at all when Jenny says she is “a feared” when she walks to the subway at night and “America is no freedom” and Colby asks me “Why?” and Aaron says “I don’t know why they expected it to be any different?” and

I just say “maybe” and “I don’t know” and “Mmm” because my heart pounds the same rhythm it always has—ever since 1984 when that man refused to cut my hair and I understood difference wasn’t inside me, but something I was told based on who was looking—when the wound was passed without knowing better than to ignore it—

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