Melancholy Hyperbole

Poetry about longing.

I Can’t Remember What Age I Was

when I was told, but it most likely
was the same year security would
trail behind me like dragged wagons
through stores. Possibly, it was when

my mother’s boyfriend, with his
breath like yeast and hops,
decided to define the word
nigger for me. I stared off
into the lamp in the corner
and watched light

seep through prisms

in the shade. It might
have been the year
when loose nooses hung
like neckties in a display
case in the hallway
of the college I went to.
I wondered what

the light felt like as it got

caught in

the grooves

of the rope. It seemed


as if it were merely
highlighting the embroidered
patterns of a scarf on sale.

The other students didn’t know
how they could be construed as


Or it could have been the year,
I was told over and over again–
by an old white man
with teeth like ground fireflies–
I was too smart to be an actor.

Donald Paris has recently graduated from Queens University of Charlotte’s Creative Writing MFA program. His work has appeared in Camel Saloon, Sonic Boom, and Eunoia Review. You can follow him on Twitter @DonaldParis.

Categories: Poetry, Poets of Color, Themed

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