Surprise, Surprise

She peers out from the chainlinkfence of her mind.
Peers out at the cloudless blue sky
she and her family purchased away from the
other neighborhood. The Others.

And, a gift of Surprise, the gated entrance
and the security of HOA and
more than a few guns locked securely
about the sacred corona of household—

Looks out at that blue sky,
cloudless, save for a little brown this morning.
The brown will clear off after the rush hour.
A little.

She straightens and presses
her detergent-washed and whiter-
than-white Ajaxed neighborhood
security vocabulary, and she turns
to face now the Boys and Girls Club

that will not happen, must not happen
because of the laundered caution she will
instill in her offspring and heirs,
and John’s and the neighbors,
the right and correct neighbors’ Children of Light.

Her thoughts spill out and out
bronzed in polished entrepreneurial sureness:
goodmoralvalues goodworkethic
honestyandintegrity myprivilegedwhitekid

a bulwark of good values set against:
a community infiltrated with AT-RISK children who may
offer the wrong kind of examples.

There are offers that we will not consider
among the offers we will accept:

a neighborhood that is oneofthemostbeautifulinthecity—
a revampedparkwithmorewalkingtrails,
a beautificationprocessthatmustn’tmustn’tbeimpeded
by scampsandurchinswhowilldeterfutureresidents

But Boys and Girls club kids will roam
and rummage thru our pride of concern:
Safety. Security. Freedom of unimpededenterprise
and property values not shared by the Others
from the old neighborhoods. The Them.

But noillfeelings about their:
brokenhomes atriskchildren wrongwrongwrong
wrongkindofexample outsideteens
Teens Roaming the Community USUPERVISED! UN!!!

Oh my privileged white kid! My child and my shadow!
She looks again into the blue.
Breathes a purchased breath in the freedom of brown-tinged air,
coughs, just a little, feels the rasp, just a little.

Breathes out what she can of the brown-tinged
atmosphere of her fears,
exhales what is left of the illfeelings
she does not have

and wonders if the chainlink gate
of the chainlink mind will have room
for just one more insignificant little padlock.

She heaves a proprietary sigh,
breathes a proprietary lungfull of her private oxygen,
turns and ushers her dominion of blue
blue sky—picturesquely tinged with the morning’s
Surprise of Sonoran beige—
inside where she can’t see either color, anycoloranymore.

She turns the AC way down to warm her soul
and draws the curtains and waits for Them to build—

Ah! That Wall

(• Author’s Note: The words run together are bits of statements made by residents of the Arizona city, Surprise, on the subject of their rejecting a Boys and Girls Club. I ran them together to indicate that they are noises behind which no thought exists, but which reflect the residents state of “mind.” I am hoping that the jumble will ask my readers to untangle the mess in order to contemplate the appalling bigotry that we are so accustomed to that we fail to notice it, even, or especially, when it is coming from our own heads.)

Richard Fenton Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Sederstrom is the author of seven books of poetry, his newest book, Icarus Rising, Misadventures in Ascension, published by Jackpine Writers' Bloc, was released last winter. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.