Thursday, November 10, 2005


burqa I worry a bit
that we worry too much
that we might be showing prejudice
when we see a man in a robe
or a woman in a burqa
and we think to ourselves
"Now, there is someone
who is not like me -- someone
who makes me nervous
because I don't know
what he is thinking,
or what she is thinking of me."

There are other kinds of people
who make us just as nervous
but correctness does not require
that we worry that
our nervousness may be based
in prejudice.

I have had a beer
in a cowboy bar
where people wear boots
and Stetson hats
and nurse a private sadness
for the passing of a day
that never was.
I understand that sadness --
to a certain extent --
but it is not the same as mine.

I have eaten a burger
in a biker bar
where scary men
and substantial women
gather to worship their God:
Harley Davidson --
the American motorcycle.
Bikers have a bad reputation,
which they carefully nurture,
but do not deserve.

I have eaten tofu and sprouts
in a stylish semi-vegan place
near my daughter's college.
I chose my words with care
because I knew
if I said the name Jesse Helms
a bit too loud
in the wrong tone of voice
conversation would stop
and people would stare at me
until I went away.

I have slipped a dollar
under a garter
in a bar where women dance
nearly nude on a stage
while men gather in corners
watching football on TV --
rather confused about
what testosterone is for --
worshiping a diety
I will never understand.

This was originally posted as a comment on a posting on Sunbreak City. His posting -- As I Stepped Out One Evening -- is a stream-of-consciousness, blank-verse musing on multiculturalism and Islam in America.

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