Mr. Man

by Hayden Church

I sat down at a desk my father gave to me
and wrote down some words as they arrived to me,
not knowing what I meant or what I wanted to even say to ya.
I sat down there and had my father’s copies of Mr. Langston Hughes’s poems out.
you could say he was my muse, of sorts, although I don’t figure
that calling on him woulda ever been much help.
so, I called on the work of Mr. Hughes and words came to me that felt right for you but wrong 
for me. one day you’ll understand what exactly I mean, I hope.
so now I am holding Mr. Haley’s biography of Mr. Malcolm, the breadth of my feelings 
once contained now trickling into permanence upon the page,
and the words I call upon now and have now received have given me both the courage and
audacity
to say the things to you that I once believed I would never have the fortitude to direct toward
you, let alone utter here, to get off my mind just exactly what I’ve always wanted to say to you,
Mr. Man.
so just listen now.
in this place I have not any clue whether anyone cares to look under the hood of this gunked-up 
machine and strip out the useless schlock of all this money.
our collective backs are breaking from your slave-labor wages. 
this ain't no love, surely it ain’t.
surely ain't no hate neither.
but sooner than later, Mr. Man,
the wheels are gonna fall off here, and the courtesy
I am grantin is gonna fall back on me,
mountains and mountains of my hate that I never gave,
because you weren't entitled to it, 
now on my back, likewise carryin.
we all are getting real upset—real fed-up with this whole mess.
so, where's my compensation, Mr. Man?

Hayden Church is a poet based in Tallahassee, Florida. His work has previously appeared in the Florida English Journal and Encyclopedia.Zone.

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October 2019

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