My Good Clothes / Middle School / 1998
— David Campos
Planchadito. Creased khakis. Tags remain
on shoes. Show them.
Tags remain on clothes.
Don’t show them. Use tape.
Wear an undershirt to prevent sweat from touching
what might be returned.
What might be returned
is the name of my preteen years,
my anxious shame still rattling
years later. Hello
is a fist bump. This is called a pound.
Remember this flesh. Let go
of hugs. We’ll talk about toxic masucilinty another time.
Here, aint nobody give
handshakes without flourish.
Here, there is a pattern to the way fingers become
entangled in hellos.
Someone tells me this may be gang related.
room teacher says this is
true. Now, I know the difference
in power structures. This is how they ban
my culture. This is where they begin
to criminalize even a hello
and the baggy pants we wear
sagged, dripping off our bodies
as metaphor for the ways in which we’re skinned.
What will be returned
is my culture for store credit.
I’ll learn to say English without an accent.
Say predicate. Say subject. Say all of
this has gone in the wrong direction.
How do I get home from white’s center?
How do I return
and return to myself?
Hot Cheetos with lime?
Running after the paletero?
Dr. Dre? Eminem? Forget about me.
My name is buried in the way syllables are pronounced here.
DAY-VID versus DAH-VEED.
I have two names in this country.
I can only afford two shirts this semester.
I hand wash cold.
Color lasts longer this way.
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