They called me Oreo.
The eleven o’clock recess period sun
was an excused white witness, oblivious
as I tumbled to my knees
under a gleeful, lead confetti of insults.
I pretended that the hurtful words
were just the last few drops of cold rain
slapping a bad beat on the back of my neck
with only five steps left to go to get inside my house,
and I held up under that weather fine
until they said that one name, the one word
that felt like an awful, rightful accusation
deeper than any simple playground mockery.
I wasn’t called up to the hate board
because of the color of my skin, though;
no racial schism irritated the membrane of my school;
if only the destiny that chose me would have been so kind
but never could I break open the dark, earthy vessel
the Gods thought to put my soul in;
I can’t ever get away from this rough-hewn me
from inside of which I look at all of you all with.
I was born with skin made out of chocolate cookie,
and all my blood and internal guts and bones
are made out of a white, creamy vanilla center,
a warm, delicious viscera.
If you were to lick the inside of me,
I would be yummy.
But there is also a bitterness
under the succulence, a sickly light
lying underneath my flesh;
because of the delicious, but crunchy
nature of my skin, I cannot play sports,
or do most of what other people can do.
I can’t swim, or do anything involving milk.
Imagine being afraid of catching a football,
or of falling, because the impact might just
break you in half; because I don’t have to.
Imagine involuntarily wincing every time
you hear the word dunk,
or mmmmm, I could really go for a cookie right about now.
I could really go for some love right about now,
but I will leave this world alone
unless I can find someone who not only
finds me tasty, but also doesn’t mind
being very careful with the soft sweetness inside of me.
The word Oreo haunted me for years,
but once I escaped from childhood, I knew
I either had to claim that name for myself
like a shield emblazoned with the gilded emblem of unafraid
or just let it go, imagine its power removed
and then let it be carried far away from me
on that icy stream under the bridge formed
by every one of my forward steps in time.
It took every ounce of strength to do both,
but I gave myself no choice but to survive.
The outside of me might be chocolate cookie,
but trapped inside of me always
will be a free, wild child of the Gods
with red Kool-Aid stains on the corners of his mouth,
wishing he could soar almost like an eagle somewhere,
just the way life is supposed to be.
Rich Boucher resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Rich served two terms as a member of the Albuquerque Poet Laureate Program’s Selection Committee, and also as a member of the 2014 Albuquerque City Slam Team. Rich’s poems have appeared in Gargoyle, Yellow Chair Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Apeiron Review, The Mas Tequila Review, Menacing Hedge, Lotus-eater, and Cultural Weekly, among others, and he has work in the Write Bloody Publishing superhero anthology MultiVerse, which was released in the Fall of 2014.