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Monday, July 29, 2013


by Martha Kaplan
Image source: NPR code switch: “The Secret History Of The Word 'Cracker’” by Gene Demby, July 1, 2013

we sat on a wall above a bayou
on the edge of a large public square
thronged with the night crowd, neon
lights reflecting kaleidoscopic colors
on my fair and his dark epidermis,
when we were surrounded by white
thugs, threatening him, threatening
me, no one in the witnessing multitude
moving, when in an exchange of words
with the ringleader, I uttered, cracker,
and he blushed, surprising me, surprising
him, surprising those others, ignorance
of the meaning of that word deflating
him, dispersing the others; and I wonder
was it gender, class, or race that lent ignorance its sting?

Martha Kaplan now lives in Madison, WI. She has published with Branch Redd Review, Blue Unicorn, Hummingbird, Verse Wisconsin, Hospital Drive, Möbius The Poetry Magazine, and Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women’s Studies Resources among others.  She has received a number of awards and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.