What Rough Beast | Poem for August 27, 2017

Mary Ann Honaker
Trump Pardons Joe Arpaio

In America, racism is like a magic eye picture:
you have to make an effort to see it,
even though it’s right there, a dolphin
leaping across the page.

Racism is like the sermon of the Buddha
where some of the hearers saw the flowers
falling from the sky, while the others
were confused at their expressions of wonder.

Racism is like a dangling booger:
you don’t know you have it unless
someone dares/is nice enough to tell you
or you happen to look in the mirror.

Racism can’t be caught on camera, like
a ghost. It’s like termites: it can eat
your whole house, weaken the structure,
but unless you know how, you won’t notice.

Maybe if you listened closely for the little whispers
of the termites’ teeth, for the wail of warped boards,
for the poof! poof! of the sawdust slowly piling.
But you don’t want to know your house isn’t sound.

Racism is like faith: there are people who know
that spirit is real; they hear it humming in their ears.
They have calculated the math of its presence.
But you have to listen to them and believe them.


Mary Ann Honaker is the author of It Will Happen Like This (YesNo Press, 2015). Her poems have appeared in 2 Bridges, The Dudley Review, Euphony, Juked, Off the Coast, Van Gogh’s Ear, The Lake, and elsewhere. Mary Ann holds a BA in philosophy from West Virginia University, a master of theological studies degree from Harvard Divinity School, and an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University. She currently lives in Beaver, West Virginia.

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