To you, Mr. Muscle Man

Kara Valore

I couldn’t resist turning back after you said hello
when I passed by you at the voting polls.
There you stood with your button-down stiff flannel
(the top three unbuttoned)
sleeves rolled up three-quarters, your price tag still showing
chomping your gum while gripping a working man’s hand confidently
because you knew you already won
and were just standing there for the accolades
wasting time until the polls closed.

Your one true gift is running your gamut of narratives:

the history department’s Critical Race Theory’s curriculum
a ‘biological boy’ groping girls in their bathroom
a gay-pride flag hung in a Kindergarten classroom.

But I swung back around only to ask you one question:
Have you publicly apologized to the education association, the school board of directors, and your constituents for falsely accusing and verbally attacking a gay teacher while campaigning for the school board director’s position?

Surely, you knew I’d come back
after the first time I asked you weeks earlier.
You answered, tonight, with a smirk
giving me that you-should-smile-more-often line
posturing like a peacock in front of me
please – I’ve been hit by bigger men than you
here I stood, unmoved, my chin jutted out
bantering knowing full well I’d get nowhere
with a Catholic beefed-up boy with a homophobic complex
wanting to stuff Jesus down my kids’ throats while learning math.

Let’s get to the essentials, shall we?
Straight parallel lines of boys on one side of the hallway and girls on the other
going into classrooms with no mention of the five indigenous children buried
at the Carlisle Barracks or the murder of Lillie Belle Allen.

See no evil. Hear no evil. And by the power of Jesus, say no evil.

When you’re a star
I know that you’ll fix everything

I feel your heat on my back as I walk away
and it’s still simmering days later
as you view my online profile several times

Kool thing, I just want you to know that we can still be friends.

Kara Valore is the author of Where the Compass Points (I. Giraffe Press, 2023). Kara’s work has appeared in Anti-Heroin Chic, Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, Bards Against Hunger Pennsylvania Anthology, DarkWinter Literary Magazine, GrassLimb, Skinny Poetry Journal, and others.