‘Curious’ – A Cultural Identity Poem

Mike Kenneally
Mike Kenneally

Chocolate and Mocha D’s Lattes on a Sunday morning
With my Madre, it’s Mother’s Day…
And after crushing like a couple grande Cappuccinos,
I say to the woman at the counter
“Seleste Shikor” in a seemingly broken manner
Cause’ I wanted to show off a little culture that day.

Smiling from the side of the room, I saw a little man’s
Eyes glazed on mine, like the cinnamon crusts
I had thought about buying since I got there,
So confused by the compelling sounds
Of a foreign bred dialect,
He dipped in out of the arms of his mother
To hear what I was gonna order next.

Surrendered, and so, so moved by the kid,
I said it again to appease him
Only this time a little
Bit more rough like I’m suppose’ to
But judging from the expressions
Of the bemused woman,
She wasn’t making it past noon
If I had said anything else
So I quickly asked again what I wanted in plain English,
Collected my three bucks
And headed back to my mother
Fore’ I was caught in the middle of a left hook
And God Knows What.

To my surprise,
A little tug on the pants was all it took
For me to gauge the quests of this eight year old man
As he mustered the courage and said something like
“Slow down, mister, I don’t really understand.
Are you black or what? Cause my pops says being black
Is bad, but you don’t sound that messed up
So I’m just wondering, are you really black or
Are you something else?”

Shit, a little too deep for a conversation at Starbucks
But standing there so blindly disarrayed,
I stopped myself before I could answer.
Indulged by his innocence to know, I felt compelled to engage
In a conversation of which I did not know,
How to speak on behalf
Of black boys like me with a history far removed from this country
And yet too familiar with questions like these
It’s hard to crop in a second,
So it took me a minute
To collect my thoughts.

“Can I have three sugars?” is what I said to the woman,
And is all I could utter to the kid,
Cause’ before my lips moved to speak again,
His mother clutched his pale skin and scurried out the door
So impatiently quick,
So as to not allow her son the right
To being curious anymore. TC mark

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