Someone’s gonna be in trouble.
Some kid’s Spanish flash cards
strewn along Maple Avenue
blown down the sidewalk,
lodged in ivy ground cover,
stuck under decrepit concrete
of disintegrating sidewalk
like a schoolboy’s T-shirt caught
in the grasp of a detention teacher.
¿Como se secribe, big fuck up, en espanol?
(How do you write … in Spanish?)
How did they get there?
Blown haphazardly out of
an errant backpack pocket?
Thrown out a bus window
by the fat older kid? A new torture
for the quiet one with glasses?
(Will he explode a dirty bomb
in a football stadium
when he grows up?)
¿Puedo usar el saqcapuntas?
(Can I use the pencil sharpener?)
Or a petulant toss and a curse –
who needs this shit?
Studying Spanish is un-American.
Mexicans are un-American.
Preguntale a otro estudiante.
(Call on another student)
They’re everywhere: Major League Baseball,
sitcoms, movies, rock bands,
doctors, lawyers, writers
and restaurant owners.
Even the ATM offers a Spanish option.
Maybe gray Governor
Jan Brewer, supercharged
from her victory in Arizona,
relaxing in Pittsburgh,
where there are few Latinos,
grabbed those flash cards and
threw them across Maple Avenue.
Not in my America,
she might have yelled.
We want our country back!
Give us our country back!
¡Cierra los libros!
(Close your books!)
What Shirley Sherrod Didn’t Know
was that somewhere in the eighties the Liberal Movement
rode its horse off Free Speech Cliff and landed in Mud Bath Gulch.
Militant Moralists threw them a rope called Political Correctness
on which they hung themselves. Instead of pulling themselves up,
they swung into Joe McCarthy Ravine,
where they were attacked, by the armies of The Offended
and The Feeling Abused. Defending themselves
with The 24 Hour News Cycle, they embraced the mire.
The first to fall on the field of fanaticism was Humor:
people were fired for telling jokes, good natured
kidding was seen as insensitive culture bashing.
Lives were ruined by offhand remarks,
by saying things in moments of anger,
or thoughtlessness, what used to be called
“mistakes.” Certain words became forbidden
causing The Repressed to go underground where,
as usual, it became virulent instead of ventilated.
Hatred sprang out everywhere, “empowering” (perhaps
the worst of the sanctioned words) The Left
with the exquisite pleasure of Schadenfreude,
heretofore a sacrament of The Right. Shirley Sherrod
thought she was wearing a white hat, riding a white horse.
She thought she might tell of overcoming disdain for
poor whites whose ancestors, with historical regularity,
lost the distinction between lunchtime and lynchtime;
a good way to connect with the neighbors
was to hang and burn a black person
(she’d seen the photographs, those toothless, smiling,
white faces standing around the charred
remains). Instead, she rode her horse into Father
Coughlin Canyon where Coughlin’s avatar, Andrew Breitbart,
blogged three minutes of her thirty minute speech on the net.
Hanity, O’Reilley, all the right wing hate mongers,
swarmed over her like red ants on a ladybug,
joined by liberals hanging at the end of their PC rope,
The NAACP and Obama’s administration fell
all over themselves condemning her. They didn’t need
the entire tape, they didn’t need the facts, they knew
all they needed to know. Talking about her reluctance
to help a poor white farmer was politically incorrect.
Oh the assonance between fascism and fanaticism felt
fierce. All fanatics have everything in common.
About Charles Brice
Charles Brice is a retired psychoanalyst and freelance writer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His poetry has appeared in “The Paterson Literary Review,” the “Front Weekly,” the “Barbaric Yawp,” and “The Erie Peace Voice.”