Originally posted 7/16/2016.


At 5:45 AM
I took out the trash
and did not startle
when a neighbor spoke to me
while my back was turned
because I am not a target.

I watered the container garden
when we were done speaking
and then sat right down
on my own front wall
in the high humidity
and, in the name of
going back to bed
and getting more sleep,
took a few hits off half a joint
and wasn’t too worried
though it was full daylight
because I am not a target.

I could have been a target.
I could have been but almost
in spite of all my handsome
paternal ancestors,
I pass for White and always have
and thus regardless
of my own thoughts
and obsessions and internal
maladjustments to the way
my frame doesn’t fit my picture,
I am not a target.

I can love and rage
and live out loud
because I am not a target.
I can walk a street
with my eyes set straight upon
the eyes of others
because I am not a target.  

I can watch every video of targets,
and target practice, 
sit there staring,
crying out and raging up and falling out,
then turn them off or turn away
because I am not a target.


No one and everyone
knows what’s coming.

No one and everyone
understands what will not stand;

no one knows how it will
fall. None but the targets understand

how that’s going to feel.
Everyone’s going to learn something —

at the very least, how
not to turn away;

at the very most, how little it will be,
has ever been, about them.


I went back inside
and was ready to sleep
until one of my handsome
paternal ancestors

rose into view,
right through the floor;
she hovered there,
her regalia soaked in blood;

she shook her head,
she would not look me in the eye;
as hard as I wanted to be before her,
I could not be hard. I instead fell

to the same floor she transcended
so easily, and saw then
how difficult it was going to be
if I wanted to claim anything

of what I thought myself
to be; and when I looked up
she was gone, and the blazing eye
of a bull bison hung in her place

for a second only
before leaving me alone 
to choose.

About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

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