It started when I told him,

his father was an asshole.

He was telling me “jokes.”

One after another.

Each one about blacks.

Each one more demeaning.

He just kept going, laughing,

he said his father told him,

taking no responsibility

for the damage.


“Stop it,” I said.

“I don’t want to hear it.”

Class was about to begin,

and I was ready to swing, again.

It was high school.

We were both sophomores.


“How do you keep blacks

from jumping on a bed?” he giggled.

I set my bag down.

“I don’t want to hear this shit,” I said.

“Hey man, it isn’t me, it’s my dad.”

“Then your dad is an asshole!”


I said it and I meant it.

Everything stopped.

The students turned.

He stopped laughing.

He was bigger than me,

but this was bigger than us.


“Now who just fucked up

and called my dad an asshole!?”

He loomed and I didn’t back off.

The first fight was quick

and the teacher stopped it.

The other fights were worse,

more violent. They took time.

They got bloody.


We weren’t friends anymore.

Just two more casualties

in a theme so old no one

can really say why.


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