“The White Man’s Wife Will Bear Him Triplets” by Jenna Lyles

Jenna Lyles


The white man approaches my yard sale
the switchblade key to his Lexus in hand

he inquires about a lemongrass candle
his wife might like before losing focus

he thumbs my records with a furrowed brow
looking for someone he knows personally

when he sees the Kokopelli keychain
the white man’s eyes start to water

he holds his belly pregnant with laughter
crying at the clouds, his stubble upturned

I shift my weight expressionless
the white man wheezes harder

dabbing the corners of his dull blue eyes
he looks over his shoulder into the ’90s

when he filled out cable-knit sweaters
emblazoned with bright Greek letters;

when he had beer for breakfast
and an incipient case of the clap

always, the last to cough as his iron lungs
braved the ceremonial passing of his bong

with easy grace, the white man rips
a five-dollar bill from his pants pocket

interrupts me when I ask if he knows of Kokopelli
No, he lifts his palm, lips curling, I don’t need change

from Rattle #66, Winter 2019


Jenna Lyles: “Right now, I’m living in the Deep South—you have to capitalize it, otherwise people may confuse your south for somewhere simply southern, like Florida. I was cautioned by family and friends not to come here. I’m a proud black lesbian, and I don’t tolerate disrespect. I think everyone was a little worried that it would only be a matter of time before my life was in danger. It’s been a few years now, and I haven’t had any serious problems. I’ve become somewhat of an ethnographer, though, comparing the white men here to the ones of my metropolitan hometown. I sometimes anticipate a certain kind of hostility, but what usually happens is that they look right through me. I might as well be invisible.” (web)

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