Volume Four, Issue 4

John Streamas

Saw Something, Said Something

I know of course he is young and white,
professional-looking, smart and snappy,
confident but not arrogant, successful but not elite,
and yet, and yet there was something sinister
about that messenger bag he carried,
something in its calfskin leather, its generous
pockets, its zippered pouches,
its adjustable shoulder strap and its small
outer flap-pockets for passports and boarding passes,
something in the way he casually slung it
over his left shoulder, something so normal
that it looked too normal, too good, too perfect,
too white and male and upwardly mobile,
too promising and yet too accomplished,
and so I had to speak up, to say something,
because no one that normal is normal,
because he must surely break the standard
he keeps so perfectly, because, after all,
normal is dangerous, mainstream is suspicious,
standard is toxic, because the law is unlawful,
and because, finally, to see nothing
is to see something, to see everything,
and I saw it, and I said it, and none of us is safe.

For Richard Wright

across the counter
the roach and the roach’s son
who gets the last crumb

John Streamas: "I received my writing degree at Syracuse, where my advisors were George P Elliott and Raymond Carver. I have published or will appear in Asian American Literary Review, New Letters, Spillway, Akashic Books' Fri-Sci Fi webpage, Into the Void's We Are Antifa anthology, Poets Against War, and elsewhere. Since 2001 I have been a professor of ethnic studies in Washington State University's department of comparative ethnic studies, now housed in its School of Languages, Cultures, and Race. Quite a few of my former students of color and international students now teach in various universities. And with visual-arts colleagues I have worked on several literature/performance collaborations."

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