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Abuse of Binary Pronouns

He was a boy then,

Not more than five or six,

Told to be careful

He kicked, or slapped, or swatted

His cup of hot chocolate

Onto the floor

Of the Rockefeller Center.

It was performance art,

Chocolate spreading on white marble.

A sticky brown ameba

Oozing menacingly toward

Sleeves, shoes, pant legs.

It’s fiendish goal to leave indelible stains

That would have to be explained.

I offered a fresh hot chocolate,

Replacing the one that had been

Kicked, or slapped, or swatted

By my little boy

Whose face twitched a sadistic grin

His light blue sweater reveling

a snakelike brown stain on the cuff.

He lives in Manhattan now.

We visit and he warns me

Not to call his guests Sweetie, Sugar, Hun, Dude, or Man.

I fail,

Blurting out “Thanks Hun”

After my wine glass is refreshed.

His manicured teal fingernail

Stabs with accusation

Of yet another abuse

of binary pronouns.

My wife provides:

a subtle squeeze at my elbow,

a pat on my knee,

a soft shushing sound.

Momentarily confused

I am chastened.

Do I smile sadistically?


I see empathy on the faces of his young guests

They have parents too.

November 8, 2021

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