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Friday, February 05, 2021


by Lesléa Newman

staring out of my TV screen is white
of course. He has dark Charlie Manson hair,

a scraggly Unabomber beard,
and an old black dog with big black eyes

sprawled across his lap and gazing
up at him with absolute adoration.

The white supremacist on my TV screen
sits under the gun on his wall at ease

in his easy chair, leaning back
peering out at the camera intently.

He has a message for me but I do not care
to listen. Instead I prefer to watch

the watchful eyes of the old black dog
who is hanging on his master’s every word.

The white supremacist has unruly hair
that falls across his forehead into his eyes.

He rakes his long skinny fingers
through his long stringy hair

and then lets his hand float slowly
down toward the old black dog

who sits up straight, every atom
of his ancient body quivering

with joy as if he has been waiting all his life
for the white supremacist’s hand

to land on top of his head so gently
and with such genuine tenderness

that the old black dog’s mouth drops
open, showing his old black tongue

and jagged yellow teeth. The old black dog
is grinning. He is in on the joke.

His old black eyes look out at the camera
for just an instant as though he wants

to make sure I am seeing this great show
of affection before he turns back

to the white supremacist who warns
the world at large to beware of what lies

ahead. And now the white supremacist
removes his hand from the old black dog’s head

and rests it on the arm of his chair
and the old black dog rests his head happily

on the white supremacist’s knee
shutting his eyes and sighing a sigh

completely content and safe
in the knowledge that all is right

with the world. So much love.
So much hate. I turn my TV off.

Lesléa Newman has created 75 books for readers of all ages including the poetry collections, I Carry My Mother and I Wish My Father (a pair of memoirs-in-verse) and October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard  (novel-in-verse); and the children’s books, Sparkle Boy and Heather Has Two Mommies. She has received poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, two National Jewish Book Awards, the Massachusetts Book Award, the Sydney Taylor Award, and half a dozen Pushcart Prize nominations. From 2008 - 2010, she served as the poet laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts. Currently she teaches at Spalding University’s School of Creative and Professional Writing.