Off with the wristwatch, the Reeboks, the belt.
My laptop’s in a bin.
I dig out the keys from my jeans and do
my best Midwestern grin.
At O’Hare, at Atlanta, at Dallas/Fort Worth,
it happens every trip,
at LaGuardia, Logan, and Washington Dulles,
the customary strip
is never enough for a young brown male
whose name comes up at random.
Lest the randomness of it be doubted, observe
how Myrtle’s searched in tandem,
how Doris’s six-pack of Boost has been seized
and Ethel gets the wand.
How polite of the screeners to sham paranoia
when what they really want
is to pick out the swarthiest, scruffiest of us
and pat us top to toe,
my fellow Ahmeds and my alien Alis,
Mohammed alias Mo—
my buddies from med school, my doubles partners,
my dark unshaven brothers
whose names overlap with the crazies and God fiends,
ourselves the goateed other.
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