The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday and Chinese New Year

The Story of White People
By Tony Hoagland

After so long seeming right, as in
true, as in clean, as in smart,
being smart enough at least
not to be born some other color

after so long being visitors
from the galaxy Caucasia
now they are starting to seem a little

deficient; leached-out, spent, colorless;
thin-blooded, indefinite-
as in being too far and too long
removed from the original source
of whiteness;

suffering from a slight amnesia
in the way that skim milk can barely
remember the cow

and this change in status is
mysterious, indifferent, and objective
as when, at the beginning of winter,
the light shifts its angle of attention

from the mulberry to the cottonwood.
Just another change of season,
not that dramatic or perceptible

but to all of us, it feels different.


"'The Story of White People' is one of a dozen or so poems I've written on the subject of race in America, that toxic reservoir over which our playgrounds and city halls are built," writes Hoagland in Poet's Choice. "I've tried to make the poems explorations unhindered by the hedging and filling of political corrrectness or middle class Caucasian guilt...the poems try to have dark fun with the verbal taboos and truths of what one of the poems calls 'Negrophobia.' After all, we all know and feel a lot more than we pretend to, and our arrested speech is the essence of our arrested consciousness." The poem is from Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty.

For the first time in over a week, Daniel was able to go to robotics, which made him quite happy. While he was there, the rest of us went to Barnes & Noble, Target, and the Chinese New Year celebration at Lakeforest Mall. For the next two weekends, the mall has displays of Chinese art, an exhibit on Confucius, tables to play Go, and decorations all over the mall including lanterns, dragons, banners, and a hand-painted mural of the Great Wall of China around the mall's central courtyard. We arrived too late for the lion dance, having spent more than 15 minutes circling in the snow-filled parking lot just looking for a clear spot, but we saw some of the dancers and martial artists from local schools:


We spent most of the evening watching the Winter Olympics, particularly the women's moguls and the men's short track -- I have trouble watching the luge, every time anyone looks out-of-control I have to look away. Hannah Kearney looked fabulous, and both Apolo Ohno and J.R. Celski got lucky that the South Koreans knocked each other out of medal contention, but in that sport I'm used to people winning (and being disqualified) because someone bumped or slid into someone else -- it reminds me of the Kentucky Derby, only with people whose ankles move at angles it makes mine ache to think about. We're very low-key about Valentine's Day here -- cards and candy -- but have a nice one if you're celebrating and have a nice Sunday if you're not!

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