My First Nazi
Nathan was the first Nazi
I ever met-his father was a methe addict redneck
who wore swastikas on his motorcycle helmet
saw his son twice since birth. Nathan's mother
was an illegal from Guatemala, was promised
marriage and a green card by Nathan's father
only to be left knocked-up and homeless in California.
And Nathan was a Nazi.
"My dad sent these to me," he'd say
proudly displaying a cigar box packed
with cheap die-cast Iron Cross necklaces, swastika earrings,
mass-produced rings bearing snake-wrapped skulls.
"He's going to come and get me someday,
take me away from all this shit."
Nathan's mother worked from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m.
at Mattel, an assembly-line worker making toys
she could never afford. Once, she brought home
a skateboard, a Christmas present for Nathan, asked me
"Did I get the right kind? Do you think
he'll like it?" I remember feeling envious
over the brand-name board, the killer wheels
even the artwork on the board was way better than mine.
"He'll love it," I said, wondering what
Nathan's father was going to send that year.
"And if he doesn't want it, I'll take it."
my grandfather won't watch sitcoms because
there are too many black people in t.v.
I watch as his world grows smaller and smaller
as he cuts more and more things
from his life because he doesn't want
to look at black people, new movies,
the news, his walks through the park
answering the door, all to avoid
seeing black people. he spends his days
watching old movies, pretending the world
is Fred Astaire, Roy Rogers, Elizabeth Taylor,
only white people, listens only to Lawrence Welk and
polka records from his childhood in Canada
where he still thinks everyone is
white. I secretly scout out nursing homes
struggle to find ways to ask the staff
how many black people live there
how many white people work there
if there's some way we can keep him
safe from the rest of the world.
I keep hearing how
he's hurting other children
on the playground, leaving
dead things for the teacher
making more dead things.
I can't see how these stories
half-whispered with barely-disguised
disgust and fear
have anything to do with
the bright blue eyes and happy smile
of the little boy
who greets me with a hug and a kiss
every morning, how can
this monster these frightened mothers describe
have anything to do with me?
I read an interview with my old friend
see the reasons we drifted apart
in his way of speaking, his disgust
of everything outside his realm of experience
these things that festered beneath the quiet
conversations of 15 years ago
have bloomed and overcome the things I used to love
I show the interview to my son, say
this is what happens when you only let in people
who flatter you, lie to you
stand by as you hang yourself by your own self-importance
but then again, at least he's not alone. I just hope
he's not sitting in the dark
the concept of the Mensa serial killer
is comfortable to most people because
most people don't want to acknowledge
how dangerous most stupid people are.
the average serial killer
has no delusions of grandeur
spends more time watching television than reading
books on philosophy
works on an assembly line doing menial tasks
wears a baseball cap turned backwards
drives a pick-up truck.
we want to believe
that killing involves planning
that planning requires brains
that the decision to strangle or disembowel
a total stranger
is made in more than 30 seconds or less.
truth is, even the stupidest among us is capable
of the most horrible acts.
even dumb rednecks
can fool the police.