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Thursday, April 17, 2014


by James O. Ferrugia

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The New York Police Department has abandoned a secretive program that dispatched plainclothes detectives into Muslim neighborhoods to eavesdrop on conversations and built detailed files on where people ate, prayed and shopped, the department said. --NY Times, April 15, 2014

I board an early bird Southwest flight late ― non-stop
LA to Chicago ― scuffle down the aisle dragging
my carry-on to the last empty seat where my determination
to stifle a claustrophobic cattle car feeling is over-
whelmed by the presence of my two seat-mates.

Preconceived notions spread out uninvited before me
like a patchwork perfect quilt of midwest farmland
at thirty thousand feet, notions cultivated
in the rich bottomlands of fear and prejudice
by generations of family and friends and teachers and priests
and pearly-eyed strangers whispering dark-toned warnings
about those people:  japs and jews and niggers and spics
and gooks and guineas and queers and . . . I’m staring.

I excuse myself, shamefaced, and slide into the center
seat as they eye me uncomfortably, lips pursed
behind well-trimmed goatees, fidgeting and fingering
their colorful kaffiyehs with slender, tawny hands, looking for
all the world like strangers in a strange and dangerous land.

James O. Ferrugia lives in Columbia, MO.  His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Solo Novo and Big Muddy; his songs have been published and recorded on the 3-CD compilation, This is My America,  and the Rand Bishop CD, Big Emotions.