Washington, D.C., after a conference:
we head into the urban night
led by the jive-talking white ghetto boy
raised in black foster homes,
bent on showing us the town. We
wander from nightclub to bar,
a mix of earnest saviors, black, Asian,
Latino, white, eager to party, to strip
the mind of diagnostic prognostication,
to revel. Eventually, one by one, our group
slips back to the hotel till I am alone
with a young black woman who says,
I want to show you one more place.
She leads me down an alley to a club.
I am the only white face in the joint,
and while she is gone to the bathroom,
the owner saunters over, asks how I’m doing,
says, If you have any trouble, come find me.
And I am suddenly more alone
than ever, till my young friend returns,
looks at my anxious face, smiles, and says,
This is what I wanted to show you.