Photo Credit: Duane Romanell
(inspired by Jeanann Verlee)
On the sixth time in middle school when your Jewish History teacher
plays butcher with your first name, say it twice, but this time louder
than the first. Tell her it means king in Swahili. Know that you’re completely
lying about this. When the bullies call you Steve Urkel, fight them. When the boys in recess ask you to play tackle football, laugh.
When the girls say you move like one of them, accept it. When your friends silently
think you’re gay, don’t flaunt your daisies around them. When your father
slaps down your arms grabbing your hips, smile. Remind him that he made you.
When the space between you and her is steam and two burning chests, don’t act on it.
When you say I love you, mean it.
When you say I love you, know her better than a prayer.
When she calls you king, leave immediately.
When she calls you home, offer an alternative. Don’t just sit there. When your mother smells the coffins in your closet, invest in
locks. Know that this won’t hide anything from her. Know you’re as see through
as shattered beer bottles. When someone calls you Tariq instead of Tyrek, correct them. say it twice.
louder than before. When the bullies are at recess and you’ve become a ragdoll, fight again.
Tyrek Greene is a twenty-year-old poet from the Bronx by way of Baltimore, MD. He is currently a junior at Wheaton College in Norton, MA. Email: tyrek.greene[at]gmail.com