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buying coffee in Crown Heights

checking out on
Franklin Avenue,
the man behind
register with his
crooked smile
pauses

to eye me
up;
measure
his
approach.

“there are baskets
there, why do you
not take one
for your things?”

“i’m fine i don’t
need one.”

he takes
a stuffed
strawberry
trinket
sold at
the counter

“here i am going
to give this to you.”

“no, thank you.”

tic tac-ing up

“i am going to
give it to you it
doesn’t cost
any thing.”

“no thank you,
i don’t need it.”

angry

“why will you not
take it?”

because
i don’t want
your un named
things.

because
it does cost
some thing.

because
i don’t weigh
my worth against
a man’s gifts
and affection.

because
i am not a puppy
you give treats
to and then you
get to pet me.

because
you don’t have
a right to me.

because
your urge to
violate me
is not
normal. it
is not
justified.

because
the life that
has left you
to demean me
is not mine
to carry.

because
my life
left me
in dark
ness too

and i
stood up

i walked
through

to the other
side where
we say

no. thank
you

for
reminding
me that we
are strong.

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