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I Approximate Myself As Something To Celebrate

From Morgan Parker’s 2016 poem, “Magical Negro #89: Michael Jackson in Blackface”

There, I said it: I’ve been thinking
about buying a gun. There’s a precedent
for my kind, and it doesn’t end.
My sense of time and condition is always
six months to eight years ahead, or
two days to one-hundred-fifty years behind.
To be safe, I remain in a state of repentance.
Our song plays in the grocery store.
I can’t help it. I’m picking out parsnips.
I imagine telling my dad I’m buying parsnips
and laugh at the way he would say Girl
Don’t you know you’re a Negro? What
in the hell? A confession is: in this moment
I do not know precisely how parsnips taste,
only that I’ve had them before, some dinner
party, some New American Brooklyn situation,
and I was delighted, lifting my glass to toast
a Grüner, for no reason in particular except
I approximate myself as something to celebrate.
I could go on like this for decades. Dress-up
like it’s my job to get blessed. Turned on
is hiding, shoulder to door jamb and maybe
a rifle. We are scared shitless to leave the house
as ourselves, and we like it that way.
The glass is all the way empty now. I’m desperate
as Motown snow. Isn’t repentance itself
always a question? Something hissing
in the palms. I can never ever stop
thinking about Fred Hampton
and youth, and how it ends. Grown-up
is when the other you eats you, when
what you allow is a monster. Sometimes
in bed with white lovers, I ask permission
to show my dark. The devils underground
are still.

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Morgan Parker will release There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé in February 2017.

November 09, 2016
I Approximate Myself As Something To Celebrate