Benjamin Gorman


Controlled Temperature

A mild summer
    all things being
                        relatives are far away
             lovers moreso
    beds cold
sweatier online than off
         humid inside
                    masks and fogged glasses
                and quarantine quarters
             air still spicy from
       lingering wisps of teargas
  and heated by
        the hot breath of
            frightened white denial
                 that shouts so loud
                        with so few words
  and the flames of
             righteous Black rage
                    that waits so long
                        to burn so brightly
    and the thousands of tiny
                             pathetic, flickering
                    hopeful stars of
             another candlelight vigil
      and another candlelight vigil
      and another candlelight vigil




Feign

 "We are much better
at teaching people
to feign confidence
so they can win arguments
than at teaching people to be
honest about insecurity so
they can let love in,"
                              he said
                                circuitously
          with feigned confidence
      to hide his insecurity.




Marching

        White man
      running late for the
    Black Lives Matter march
401 years too late
  desperately
         scanning the car for sunscreen
  wouldn't want to
                  hurt for this
wouldn't want to
                burn

    I pass
   lines of men and women
 picking fruit in the fields
   how many not offered
    humanity because
       papers please?
How many could have
  children thrown in
    cages in concentration camps?
while they
         burn
   to feed families
  theirs and mine?
        Ours?

Where is my sunscreen, anyway?

They march
  up and down the rows
    their backs bent
     worthy of more respect
      demanding more recognition
        of their dignity
         and humanity
    than my calendar entry
afternoon stroll for justice.

          My event
     was postponed after all.
   Something about permits
 not processed in time by
white bureaucrats.
 Guess I missed the memo.
 401 years too late
          I walked through the city
        with my sign
     nodded at other white people.
 All pleasant. No objections.
            No one
                      burned.
   We all smiled
  behind masks
 knowing the fruit would be
cheap.