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Poet of the Week: Danez Smith

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“Ooooh, you look like”

usually heard in the context of trying to receive services from a service industry employee when you make it to the front of the line & as said employee is ringing you up looks upon your face & sees a face not yours & so says I know you don’t I? to which you say Maybe you went to Central? to which she says Naw but you know Shanice? but you don’t know any Shanices particularly well so you say Naw but then her face lights up & fingers snap in the way your mother does when she has a revelation & says Ooooh, you look like Kenneth & so calls over Tasha to confirm that you indeed do look like Kenneth to which Tasha says Hell yeah! dragging out the whole thing to let you know how much you look like the man you don’t know & this whole moment you hate not because you hate this small little ritual of looking like someone but because you the whole time ask yourself What the fuck does Kenneth look like? & so take to the phonebook to look up any man named Kenneth but upon realizing that the phonebook is listed by last name you take to the internet to look up every Black man in the metropolitan area named Kenneth Kenny or Ken with only minimal breaks to look at a little porn & knowing that photos lie decide to find Kenneth & over the course of three months of sleepless nights of waiting outside of the homes & jobs of every Black Kenneth in town & nineteen visits to prisons for the nineteen Black Kenneths in prison & tracking down two Black Kenneths who ain’t been home in a while & laying six flowers on six graves with only minimal breaks to watch porn & only having one situation get a little weird when Kenneth 47 caught you looking at more than his face in the restroom you followed him into you conclude that nigga Kenneth looks nothing like you. Tasha be lyin

 

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