Shame by Marc Woodward

Today
I’m against myself
for my weakness,
my non-confrontational
cowardice.

Last night
this man said to me
at the nightclub urinal:
Bloody ‘ell – a Bog Wog
in Torquay?!
Ain’t seen one of ’em
‘ere before!

The black guy
sitting on a chair
by the sink
with his towels,
soap and scent
would have
clearly heard.

Stunned, I replied:
Er… I don’t know what to say…
and at that moment I didn’t.

I do now.
By addressing me with your
blokey-jokey turn of phrase,
you co-opt me into your racism.
By not objecting
I became guilty
through association.

I should have turned
sideways to you
so your leg got my
full stream of piss
and called you what you are:
a vile racist.

But also you are a huge thug
with a cropped head and swollen mug,
so I stayed silent – and to my shame
I worry even now I’d do the same…

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