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Chicagoetry: Bite


I eat fear every day. Fat with it.
I bike through cold rain
With worn down brakes, worried

For wipeouts, for drivers plowing
Through yellow arrows across Harlem Avenue,
Stray dogs, service truck blind spots, potholes,

Toward the liquor store where
My black neighbors are meaner to me than ever,
Insulting me to my face now

For being a "white guy,"
Fucking with my bike, in one case
Actually stealing the lock

I didn't use
For the minute
I'd be in there.

Like never before, like
I had anything
To do with it.

Perhaps I do.
I never take the bait.

The owners are cool, I'm a regular,
But one of them doesn't defend me.
Other black customers usually

Do. I just thank them and
Suck it up.

The owners are brown-skinned, (mostly) no accents,
Won't guess where from (OK: Arab?
Persian? East Indian? I don't press).

Then to downtown for work.
On CTA, don't drive.
I listen like a motherfucker:

No earpods, cellphone stashed.
Just the other day, Dude got into it
With a K-9 security guard,

Guard with a muzzled German shepherd.
"Bitch!" "Faggot!" On my last two trips downtown
In a row, in fact (I stayed still, kept quiet,

Had a fair amount of cash to pay back
A loan from a friend,
Still, quiet, fiercely alive),

To lead tour groups outdoors
Through the Loop, obliged to address,
Among other things,

Trump Tower.
By necessity, I've learned precisely
How to do it.

You have to learn.

I eat fear every day: repress, sublimate,
Sensitive to triggers, often random images
Or music, stray bits of

Smoking more, too, for sure.
Praying more, too, for sure,

Not because I believe
But because it makes me
Feel better.

If I could hide
I would probably hide.
But I can't, so I stay strong

And keep moving forward, moving
To refine, biting
My cold, grey tongue

Until it sort of hurts.
I keep moving.
I keep moving.

And praying.


J.J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He welcomes your comments. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.


More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* The Viral Video: The Match Game Dance


Posted on April 5, 2018

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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