DEAR TUBBS: by Brenda Nicholas

You were a venti mocha latte
before Starbucks existed. I could have drowned
in the vacillating color of your eyes:
Emerald ring for my finger green? or
Caramel Sundae for my mouth brown?
While all of my friends ogled Don,
I watched you stroll, your glistening chest
wet as the deck of my V-shaped speed boat.
You captured criminals and my white-girl heart,
slayed me with your rebellious earring
long before slay was used this way
in a sentence. I found no one like you
in my blistering white Upstate New York town.
I danced with your shadow
between Miami Vice episodes, in my bedroom,
swayed my inexperienced hips
to Chaka Khan’s words: I feel for you.
I guess I love you and held onto this emotion
as if it was your hand at the roller rink.
Ain’t nobody (Nobody) loves me better!

Back then, Reagan reigned the eighties. Preppies
and yuppies exploded across America, like a stolen pinata
full of candy colored Izod shirts,
like a cocaine dealer’s bomb you may have chased
on a fast boat or in a faster car.
And I was too affixed to your face to notice racial
implications: how they dressed you
in dark colors, Crockett in light suits,
equipped you with a black gun—long as a stereotype—
for promo shots, donned your partner with a badge
to flash: blond haired, blue-eyed lead singer
of world’s largest shopping mall.

Brenda Nicholas has earned an MFA from UNCW and teaches English at Temple College in Texas.