an open letter to the public school employees worried that “antiracist” is too controversial a term (Matthew E. Henry)

some days I believe the number of first cousins
holding hands in a marital bed is dwindling. an illusion
upended when you speak. I hope hand soap lights your face on fire and
the only available suppressant is a dull fork. I hope

termites lay oblong eggs in your pubic hair and
hone their taste for unwashed flesh. I hope your children choose your
elder-care options from an old 60 Minutes expose and

find your savings the perfect seed money for investing in
underwater solar panels. I hope happiness is a football: that you’re
Charlie Brown and Time is Lucy. I hope your cat leaves, your
kite strings always breaks, and ravens remember your eyes. I hope you’ll

understand how you sound. I hope you realize this
poem is an acrostic—a noose waiting to tilt your neck— and act accordingly.


MEH is Matthew E. Henry, the Boston-based author of Teaching While Black (Main Street Rag, 2020) and Dust and Ashes (Californios Press, 2020), and editor-in-chief of The Weight Journal. His recent poetry and prose are appearing or forthcoming in Barren Magazine, Biological CreaturesThe Fiction Pool, Frontier Poetry, Massachusetts Review, Mineral Lit Mag, The New Verse News, Ninth Letter, Ploughshares, Rejection Letters, Solstice, Twyckenham Notes, and The Windhover. MEH is an educator who received his MFA, yet continued to spend money he didn’t have completing an MA in theology and a PhD in education. His work can be found on education, race, religion, and burning oppressive systems to the ground. 


image: Alan Tenhoeve