2 POEMS – Joe Benevento

I Want Out of the Cracker Box Too

I saw a student presentation about Rumi

as a BIPOC poet, and all this time

I had thought Persians were white.

A few months later I’m reading about

Robert Saleh, a Lebanese-American, presented

as one of only a few BIPOC NFL head coaches,

and wondering whether anyone

has told Marlo Thomas she’s been

biracial all these years.

Back in her dad’s day, even his pal

Desi Arnaz, though dark and Cuban,

was considered a blanco in the States,

since not too many I Love Lucy

fans would have very much loved

them as a biracial couple.

So I looked it up: both Persians

and Arabs have been seeking status

as America’s newest not-Caucasians,

I even read an article by an Arab-American

about having had enough of being nominally

white without any of the privilege.

At this rate the Aryans might get

their centuries old wish to be the only

ones left in the cracker box.

And I don’t see why this dark-as-Desi grandchild

of Calabrese  peasant immigrants

with almost certainly some Arab, if not Moorish

blood should be forced to configure himself

swimming in the same gene pool as Prince Andrew,

Barry Mills or even Edith Wharton;

I don’t know why I should continue to suffer

the Mafia jokes and chronic mispronouncing

of my name without being able to get

anybody in trouble for it. Still more

I have to wonder why any of us whole

wheat crackers would want to stay stowed away

in that slowly sinking ship.  What Greek, Jew, Slav,

Romanian, Magyar, Portuguese, Sicilian, Basque, Celt,

Cypriot, Armenian, Bulgarian, Moldovan,

Andalusian, Albanian, all the many others

never welcomed in first class, should choose

now to drown with the rats?

~

His Wife Isn’t Cheating On Him

Though so many signs are there.

Not just the infrequency of coupling,

but the settled indifference during

and in between.

His spouse has even upped her

nighttime modesty, flaunting flannel

even in July, air conditioning keeping

sultriness at bay.

Someone else must be getting

her attentions, he assumes: the Tex-Mex

contractor with the aquamarine eyes

and know-how he’s never known;

the new English teacher she says

she’s mentoring; the red- bearded Newman

Center priest whose homilies enliven her.

Her time, though, all accounted for,

not enough opportunity to do justice

to vow breaking.

Still the way she mocks his voice

when they argue, the disdain certain

as snowfall and about as cold.

His wife is not cheating on him:

he wishes she were; at least then

he might understand her detachment

even from hate.

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