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Quiet

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And as the ink slides off my paper
I can't help but think
that it's one of those unspoken things,
one of those things you're just supposed to
know, once you're a big kid
in college
that what you write should be real.


But right at this moment, I can't help but feel
that the only thing real
are the beads between my fingertips.
The beads of my necklace that I twirl and curl
around my fingers
as I stare at the spines of the books on the shelves
and I can't help but think how queer it is
that all the gay books
landed in the 'Q' section.


Like maybe Dewey was in a fun mood one day
and maybe he put all the books coughed from Harlem
into the 'T' section
- Troublemakers -
or the Bibles
into the 'E' section
for exclusive.
And all the books
which crossed the border
or swam the seas
or caught the air
into the 'I' section
for illegal
or 'U'
for unwanted
or whatever it is
that "everyone else" decides.


And the gay books
in 'Q,' for queer
or for quiet.


And the books
so dumb
so mute
stand like grunts
and wait for eyes to see them.


Or maybe I'm just being paranoid
because I do that sometimes, you know
because I know I shouldn't be
here.
Because I know these books could catapult themselves off the shelves
and pin me to the wall by their bow-arrow spines
and demand, with gnashing teeth,
why I'm in this aisle.
And Maya and Chopin and Langston
will stand jury.
And hang me with them.


Because pulling one of these books off the wall
would be like having a phone explode with sound
in class.
You open it, and there it is,
and your jaw slacks just a bit
like a door someone forgot to shut the whole way
but the sound can never be
reclaimed.


And if I open one of these books,
words might vomit all over the clean library tile,
and since everyone tells me, with their hands
or with their mouths
that it's better to be seen than heard
especially if the words I pull out of my throat are a guilty plea,
my hands fall off my wrists
and crawl away.


Because it's one of those things
one of those unspoken things, that by the time you get to college
you should have simply picked up by now
that you should always be real
except when you shouldn't.
And the Q's
The U's
The I's
The E's
and the T's
Spell silence.




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