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Poetry

Powder Burn

Geoff Kagan Trenchard

For white people involved in the drug trade, there are no questions
regarding the existence of racial profiling.  It is as blatant as the sunrise
over a cocaine hangover.  Everybody knows why you’re squinting.

Not that I consider myself a dealer per se. Just an enthusiast
of vice that always seems to have the phone number you’re looking for.
So I get a call from a high-strung art student that lives

in the kind of neighborhood with blood spots on the sidewalk
now, but in five years you know there’ll be juice bar. Black and white
cop cars cruise slow past the oversized white tee’s reflected

in chrome searchlights and aviator sunglasses. Down the curb
stomps a woman with half a weave blooming out her head in a frozen
red mist. I duck into a 24 hour Donut Shop/Chinese Take Out

with a pocket full of good times and bad news to wait for the call.
In the one booth sits a man entirely comprised of pockmarks, Dickies
and Old English lettering. His girl sits next to him,

her lacquered talons pet a lap dog. It’s car alarm bark snaps
at the chorus of obvious homeless. They stand in a polite but strung out
clothes line cross the restaurant. Patiently waiting for the blessing

of a handshake. Begging appraisals for baby clothes and silver tarnished
brown as a bear claw. Wonder if the customer I’m waiting on will ever be too broke
to get his drugs delivered. In these situations it’s best to keep

your eyes to your self. Focus on the glass case and it’s militant row of pastries.
It is there I catch the contorted reflections of two cops as they walk in. 
One white and one black, young enough to be either very cool

or very not. Keep my eyes fixed on the Old Fashions and my breathing steady.
The Cholo looks at the cops like they are a windshield he would love to break his hand on.
His girl snarl could make battery acid flinch as she locks eyes with the black cop.

The white cop gives me a polite nod as I walk outside to answer my phone.

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