In the Third Person

by Donald Vincent

He takes up triple space—
One seat, two seat, three

On the train, the ‘other’
Is always evasive. Mommy,
Look, a negro. I’m afraid.

It is here, he is confronted
With the responsibility of race,
The weight of his ancestors,
A collective prison.

She shushes the child
And apologizes to the man—
Sorry, sir. My child doesn’t realize

That you are civilized, like us.
The man nods his head in familiar
Disgust. Being white and saying sorry
Is a revolving door. He can forget the pain,

The hate, he can forgive it all.
He thinks, only if they’ll integrate me
Into their society. I am the lesser of
All the world’s evils.

Still, they prevent him from participation,
From the game of life. You win some,
You lose some, but he’ll lose it all

Waiting for acceptance in a fixed system.

Donald Vincent is the author of Convenient Amnesia (Broadstone Books). He is also Mr. Hip, a recording artist and lover of all things art. He currently teaches English Composition at UCLA and African-American Literature at Emerson College – Los Angeles. When he is not teaching, he can be found in the kitchen tinkering with plant-based recipes. Originally from Southeast, DC, he currently resides in Los Angeles and at

Also by Donald Vincent: Absence of Blackness and Zoom Funeral or is it the News?