The posted rule says keep your dogs on-leash.
But if a black man asks you to conform,
feel free to treat him like a dog, to storm
at him and point and threaten to unleash
that well-worn discipline: “I’ll call the cops
and say an African-American…”—
’cause “Harvard grad,” “birdwatcher,” “novelist,”
or “neighbor,” “person,” “stranger,” “man,” won’t stop
this white world quite the way that “black man” will,
won’t get police there fierce enough, with knees
on necks—will leave him too much room to breathe,
to be, to speak, to wait for you until
you leash your dog, and stay six feet away,
so he can watch the birds this bright spring day.
Editor’s note: This poem was first published at the Asian American Christian Collaborative.