Jessica Bansbach

“He’s a musician.”

It seems that in praising him

I have created a codeword

Of candy-coated bigotry.

Downed sweetly with wine, they instead hear:

“He’s not like the other members of his race.”

The caged Hispanic sings

Because it’s the only way we’d ever want to hear him.

The poster child smoothed and shopped

To remove his frays.

Hard work is more marketable behind the face of Hammerstein

Than the counter of a convenience store.

The Box in My Room

An ancient piece of chocolate

Pillaged from church

Squirreled away for spoiled dinners

And aged with mold

A paperback heart

Folded and unfolded in nervous palm

With words from my first love

Scratched in lead ink

Almost an illusion

Birthday cards

From a friend long deceased

Who went behind oak doors

Never came out

Old jokes

Old laughs

Old phone case

Old thoughts

My hands wipe away the dust

But it can’t be truly lost.

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