The apology you’ve wanted

The white apology

I’m sorry that you need to hear it,
sorry that history favored
the first to wield the sword
the first to encase black powder
in shiny brass and steel,
but this was not my doing.
I wasn’t there on the ships,
in the moorings, on the fields
of swaying grass and gut,
or surely I would have died
shitting my pants with fear.

I’m sorry that history allowed it,
allowed the oil tycoons and soft-palmed
narcissists to trade metal and paper
for all the world and all persons within it,
to layer scar tissue on the backs and the wrists
and the inner thighs of objects
they saw as objects instead of lives.

I’m sorry Jesus was invented
Mohammed was enshrined
Joseph Smith was batshit insane,
and I’m sorry so many believed.
I’m sorry for the laws
written on the faces of such belief.
I’m sorry superstitions still carry
so much currency
like buckets drawn up from wells
filled with blood instead of water,
and I’m sorry those wells
seem to have no bottom.

In low-lit bedrooms since the beginning of time
when a bedroom was nothing but smoke
caked into bedrock,
I’m sorry men of all colors and creeds
could get what they wanted without a fight,
before aluminum canned beer
was poured into Solo cups,
before fathers and Fathers
waited for the mothers to be out of town,
before grades and jobs and debts
became levers and scissors
on clothing and legs
pried so easily apart.

I wasn’t there, but yes it was me,
me too, me too, me too,
for not being there to stop it,
to raise my voice and do my part
to end the cycle of complicity
in the carousel of consent and discontent.
I’m guilty and I shoulder the blame
of an entire history I had no place in
other than sharing this similar skin,
this generic face, this entitled life
of accepting my body for what it is.

I’ve said the word nigger with no remorse.
I’ve called you cunt and fantasized
about fucking you like a receptacle
for lust instead of love
like so many starlets on display online.
I’ve said the word faggot and dike
as if it were a punchline
in a joke everyone already knew.
I’ve been a child in a world
made in my image
and I grew to hate myself anyway
as I grew to see past these shells.
Forgive me, I know not what I do,
and though I never hurt you
as a straight white man,
I hope it gives you some comfort
to hear someone admit their fault
for all the pain they know you’ve felt.
Forgive me. Please, forgive me,
then let me burn in hell.

Editors are not your friends

The editor was never your friend

Once, twice, published by Rattle,
not even the magazine,
just the Poets Respond blog,
still paid one hundred bucks,
and I considered this
my greatest literary achievement
having persisted for several years
until Timothy Green said he loved
something I had written.

But Timothy Green was never my friend,
though I defended him from accusations
of racism, of misogyny, of being an asshole,
Timothy Green was never my friend.

He denies global warming,
so why should I care?
He probably voted for Trump,
so why should I care?
Maybe he is indeed everything
people accuse him of being,
how should I know?
I was just defending someone
I considered to be a friend,
but when the chips came down
I should not have expected the same.

His favorite poet was a woman
he probably wanted to fuck,
so he sent her chapbook
to every subscriber.
When I had an argument with her
and she called me misogynist,
for not falling in love
on the internet,
he dropped me like a bag of rocks
into the river of the accused
where he fished regularly
for more drama-tinged poets
to drive the dialogue and currency
of more subscription clicks.

Timothy Green was never my friend,
and that is fine with me,
but people still hold that over my head
like a piano ready to drop,
just as they hold it over his head
like the billy club engraved
with jealous names.

Hello, Jesus. Hello, Peter.
Hello, Binders Full of Women.
Hello, Rachel. Hello, Leza.
Hello, Heather. Hello, long list
of bitches who wish
to stand on each others backs
for the sunlit warmth
of attention on your faces.

I have not murdered anyone.
I have not raped anyone.
I have not even held a grudge
for longer than a week.
Perhaps if I had, I could have
won the Rattle Chapbook Prize,
or at least made it into print
to become one of the few
the editor used as proof
of his egalitarian tastes,
while the idiots clamored
to stab themselves in their throats
with the razor
they fashioned from my very name.