portion of Ronnie K. Stephens' artwork

bam bam i’m a man
Ronnie K. Stephens

though nigger
wetback dyke and fag
were fixtures
in the kitchen conversation
of my childhood
i did not learn
from the prejudice
of my father’s language

i found it
in the profane poetry
of his fists
as he waylaid our rascal pup

ire boiled like flesh
under a cigarette butt
and melded with my hands
into the tight-rope toss
of my favorite plastic ball
straight to the furred spine
of that loyal mutt

i made a game
of chasing him around
the yard laughing hard at the sharp smack
my toy made each time it slapped his back

pops from pops
were a fixture
at my house

welts were handed down
like patchwork quilts

so i walked the mirrored halls
practicing with plastic balls

Return to Archive