The white bosses and their sons were on
the long steps of the store’s porch, the men
drinking Budweisers while their boys drank
from the red cans of cold Colas. I wanted one
and strolled into the store, like I did when I lived
in New York, and all the hands followed me
to the counter where I pull a sweated dollar
from my pocket, and lay it down for a cold soda.
A white man, wearing a white KKK tee-shirt,
looked at me like he could just barely see me,
then he turned and reached into the chest freezer
and got me a cold Cola. All the hands bought one.
And we walked back to sit in the shade on crates
and buckets under the roof over the gasoline pumps,
talking on each other’s sisters when the white boys
get up, and one of them who was about my age of 15
crushed his empty can and threw it at me. I threw it back,
hitting him side the head, knocking his aviator shades
into the Carolina dirt in front of the white bosses.
All the white bosses stood up, and one of them,
Jasper Edmond, said “Go to him Junior, don’t you ever
take shit from a nigger.” All the hands got up
and stepped away, and Junior came at me. Scared.
White. My first blow was square in the middle
of his face and he went down, then looked back
at his fat father while blowing the blood from
his broken nose. He got up and came again.
Slow and ready to stop if I would let him find some
white way to do it. But I had the bear funk on me,
and I hit him in the same spot and he dropped
to his knees. Then down to his hands and
blood-mouthed the words please, please.
I lowered my fists, walked away saying I quit,
looking at his fat ass father, who said that he was
gonna surely pay me what I goddamn had coming
for the day, and I told him that he could keep it.