Whole Fools—White Foods?

One Wednesday
I was walking home from a
Rehearsal with Vukani, at First Congo—
Or, was it Capt. Crossman’s for John Brown’s Truth
Or, an UpSurge! production meeting with Ruth?

Anyway, I thought I’d brave a security experience
And quench my thirst—So, I checked my wallet and
Prepared for sticker-shock—first!

I fixed my mental coat of mail and chain,
Slid the visor down on my brain
For the battlefield, shopping while black,
Though this day my bassist friend, Henry,
Had my back…

I was taken by the scents emanating from a former
Cadillac dealership across from the sanctuary, it was
African-American History Month, the shortest month
Of the year: February

I thirsted for a Kombucha, or Reed’s Ginger Beer,
My internal clock told me I wouldn’t have long to
shop without fear…

After rehearsing, practicing or meeting, I’m usually
hungry too—so I headed for prepared foods, like a
bolt out of the blue

With my appetite growing, while foraging for a
Reasonably-priced nosh—my black uniformed
shadow, mirroring my movements, applied the
Disturbing my peace and simple pleasures with profit
preservation measures PTSD masking symptoms of
‘white’ supremacy—maybe he thought he was anti-
oxidant, and I was a free radical to frame?
Or, just some dumb darkie he could bluff and shame?

I’d just seen some Bogey, Brando and Gable—
So, I decided to Chekhov, turning the table
Stopping short in the middle of the floor—
Like I just couldn’t take any more, questioning
My shadow in my most moral, authoritative voice
As if offering him ‘freedom of choice’:

“May I help you?”

What I really wanted to say was, “Look, MrMuthafukkka, you need to find
some real work to do around here today, and not try to use my shopping to
pimp a paycheck under the ruse of profit preservation, the pretension of
‘loss prevention’— ‘cause if you’d been paying attention, the ‘white’ girl
in the black business suit just slipped a lipstick down her boot… the ‘white’
boy yappin’ on his phone just conned a Black family with a sub-prime
‘Loan’—effectively stealing their home!”

My shadow in black uniform turned red as an ember—
Before the loudspeaker shrieked with a Team Member:

“Spill some blood—
Choke this dude!

Spill some blood—
Choke this dude!

Spill some blood—
Choke this dude!

Spill some blood—
Choke this dude!

Comin’ in
Not ‘white’ hued!

There were old one, young ones,
Rich ones, poor ones, passive ones
Lame ones, wanna act the same ones
Standing watching the Staten Island massage
Like it’s Shangri-La, and all a mirage…
Brought to them by Korporate Kings of
The Lone Star state: Old Foods pickled in
Hate! It was like returning to school in
September nails on chalkboard voice of
A Team Member:

“Spill some blood—
Choke this dude!

Spill some blood—
Choke this dude!

Spill some blood—
Choke this dude!

Spill some blood—
Choke this dude!

Say amen

By then I’d lost my taste for a Kombucha drink—
Before I saw the big sign written in invisible ink:


That’s why I shop Lakeshore Natural and Trader Joe’s…

Former forklift driver/warehouse worker/janitor, Raymond Nat Turner is a NYC poet; BAR's Poet-in-Residence; and founder/co-leader of the jazz-poetry ensemble UpSurge!NYC. Read other articles by Raymond Nat, or visit Raymond Nat's website.