Oh, you know America—there was a decision:
sell off the small house to the big house;
add metal detectors; shake every purse;
reverse every pocket—what’s that in your pants;
take off your coat, your shoes; nope, you can’t
wear those—get them socks off; better yet, take off
your shirt—that one too; step out of your pants; drop
the underwear; keep your eyes on me—
I need you to pay attention; part your hair
then your cheeks, your ass; lift your balls,
lift your tongue; tell me where you parked
—I need to search your car for something;
I need to drive your car to your house;
give me the keys to your house or I will have no choice
but to knock your door down; where is the thing—
under the sink; under the floorboards; you don’t
need to know what I’m looking for;
I’ve got my reasons; you can come in
over my dead body; once you exit
who’s to say I will let you back in?
If you wanted to return, a ticket
is not enough, my friend—it’s just
a slip of paper that can be torn.
Look here, give me it—
see? Now try to get past me—
I dare you. I’m a fucking wall, dude.
Respect the badge—this star
with my name written across it.
Flicks are my thing—ask me anything. Like,
I bet you didn’t know this: the horror house
in this movie, that’s set in Birmingham, Michigan,
was actually a plantation-style house in Birmingham,
Alabama. Isn’t that wild; the way one part of America
can stand in for another part of America?
That’s like if I called you nigger
in Birmingham it sounds the same as if I called you
nigger in Birmingham. Of course, I would never
say that word, you understand. I like you people.
Just bury me in this blazer,
these starched pants, licorice dark shoes.
Or better yet burn me up, then
pour my ashes in a film reel’s canister.
Bury that in a block of cement; pour me
into the sidewalk the way they do in Hollywood
with the stars on the Walk of Fame. It’s American,
the dream to leave a piece of you behind
for tourists to walk all over. Look down
at the ground—you are standing in
my home. You know what I say? Shut the door behind you
when you leave my country of screens;
of so many white stars.
So these fucking dudes, that don’t even speak
English, keep carrying away my theater brick by brick,
right past me as if I am so white
that I’ve disappeared—no one sees me.
I refuse to move; I can’t leave—
my counter always ready at zero, zero, zero.
Have you heard of those multiplexes now?
They want you to believe those
tiny shit boxes are just like home: La-Z-Boys
that recline to a fuck-me friendly angle; shitty food like
fried mozzarella sticks and potato skins; more showtimes:
all to get more bottoms for their bottom lines.
Oh, I know America. Oh say can you see
my wide white ass—it ain’t going
anywhere. This is the house of dreams I built.
Where the balcony was, a sign went up
for a Starbucks; the ticket booth, a Korean-owned
nail shop. You should have seen
how they carried away the screen—
a bridal train without a bride. And me here,
a groom jilted at the altar, all dressed up
funeral-nice. Remember when a movie
was one big screen: one image shared by many:
black and white? The movie house
was a country of star gazers—all in the dark
looking up into all of that light.
And everyone knowing their places.
Copyright © 2020 Tommye Blount
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.