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stop talking 

sitting in a colleague’s class, i listened 
to high school students compare a Christian baker 
denying wedding cakes to same sex couples, 
to Black men asked to perform a song and dance 
for the KKK. the hypothetical caused 
some to glance at my skin, my silence. from behind
one young man explained the Klan didn’t exist 
anymore, hadn’t killed anyone in decades 
according to his impromptu estimation. this 
after Mother Emmanuel, where nine closed eyes, 
folded hands in prayer, and opened to Jesus. this 
after tiki-torch Nazis crashed hateful white waves
of clubs and cars into peaceful bodies. this 
as freedom flyers arrive in mailboxes, daily
making white pride promises of protection 
and a good night’s sleep despite the encroaching 
darkness. it wasn’t my class, but i slowly turned 
to make the only appropriate contact i could:
“Stop talking,” a finger slicing across my throat,
miming the tracks of chains, knives, nooses. 
he tried to make it better. began to explain…
“No. Stop talking.” he did. 
                                              i should have said more. 


MEH is Matthew E. Henry, a Pushcart nominated poet with works appearing or forthcoming in Amethyst Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Kweli Journal, Longleaf Review, The Radical Teacher, Teach. Write, and 3Elements Review. MEH is an educator who received his MFA from Seattle Pacific University, yet continued to spend money he didn’t have pursuing a MA in theology and a PhD in education.