my father has a full set of white teeth
one platinum molar he lifts his head to
the sky and allows them to shine before
he snaps my father snaps with half of
this body twist his knees to a borrowed
song while singing all the wrong words
my father loves Eddie Kendricks because
Eddie smiles the widest when he sings my
father knows how to smile at funerals
holds hands with the grieving which
usually be my auntie’s press his face to
their cheeks until calm my father be
sorrow so often he knows how to trick it
to make it feel like joy say most of us
high school it’s God now most of his
brothers gone now buried and niece now
knows churches only as burials say he
and going to heaven because all his
friends gonna be in hell and you just
want to hang out with his homies because
that’d make a pop in eternity that make
a wholesome gospel don’t be trusting
folks that pray better than they love
say if Jesus is black he reading from a
white man book my father say some of our
neighbors be adjacent to the KKK because
they don’t speak now my father says
white folks are lying when they are
silent especially when they don’t say
excuse me especially when they don’t say
hello especially when they don’t say
thank you my father drove an AC Transit
bus for almost 30 years so he knows
thank you said there are some nice white
folk but most of them are delirious most
of them ain’t got the sense to make sure
you live in good make sure you live good
my father loves trash talking say he got
the right to say he too old and he too
black to not talk wish someone was
check them say he fired at the mouth
while keeping his bills paid cause that
multitasking my father’s favorite clap
back is looking you directly in the eye
and saying so so so what about your face
my father didn’t teach me to fight my
father didn’t teach me the bend neither
my father didn’t teach me about race the
world and when the officer pulled the
baton inches to my cheek I remembered I
was raised by a man who warned me of
uniforms who colored our bookshelves for
Malcolm and black anthologies to prepare
me for nothing the books didn’t teach me
about race the white kids did and I let
them treat me like a magical ass nigger
my father would say call me hero in a
box office film just for breathing my
father he’s retired now he spends his
morning’s playing tennis and drinking
beer say he deserves this deserves to
drink the kindness that time squeezed
for him and black men black men mate
they mess up pretty often but this black
man he deserves the universe and a red
striped bottle drink all the way to the
moon or the mud whichever he decides my
father says the only reason why you
fight is when you think you not winning
so make sure you win by showing them
your white teeth wide open at funerals
because you got to know the joy and
sadness sometimes and sing and sing and
sing whatever song you want it to be
that day not because the spirit moved
you to or nothing no but because you
deserve any scrap you can get even if
it’s just this
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