begin fueling on pump number three while I
finish up on pump number four.
You eye my braid, my old car, my flute bagin the rear window, and that expression comes
onto your pale, clean-shaven face.
You seem upset that I don't shuffle, step aside,show embarrassment about my dark skin, and
why must I have feathers in plain view?
You are columbus, with your arrogance andyour privilege and your superior equipment,
you are that same murdering foreigner.
You wish I would go away, would not bepresent right there with road dirt on my car,
would be somewhere else, doing menial work.
Hey columbus, nobody needs you here. Welived here for tens of thousands of years before
you came with your virulent diseases.
Hey, columbus, your arrogance wears thin, anda cheap, pitiful little thief shows through — your
time has been already too long.
You are that same columbus who acceptedmy Arawak cousins' hospitality, there on Hispaniola,
then gathered folks up to sell as slaves in europe.
You are that same columbus who noticedgold ornaments, who demanded tribute, who
cut off hands or feet for not bringing enough.
You are that same columbus whose ownspanish priest, Fray Bartolome de Las Casas,
wrote about your unimaginable cruelty.
You might say that was long ago, that I amonly showing my ignorance and paranoia,
that you have nothing to do with it.
You might be lying, too. Your arrogancegives you away, shows you out. You are that
same columbus who thought himself better.
Hey, columbus, haven't you stole enough,aren't you rich enough yet to get into that
exclusive little heaven you talk about?
Hey, columbus, if my honest half-breed presencecauses you discomfort — if you had rather your
wife and kids didn't see me, why not leave?
You are that same columbus, yes it's youstepping from your sport utility vehicle onto
the flat pavement of a filling station.
You are that same columbus and you can't hide,even in the privacy of afternoon drinks at your
exclusive clubs — arrogant stink surrounds you.
You are that same old columbus whodreams of empire, who pretends to own
this land, who is willing to kill for profit.
You are that same old columbus who brought uscheap thrills, oil spills, insurance bills, close-order drills,
targeted kills and land fills with radioactive waste.
You are that same old columbus, and youwish I would go away? After all these years,
after your people have done these things?
Hey columbus, why don't YOU go away?Hey columbus, your scorn displeases me.
Hey columbus, your elections are phony.
Hey columbus, your time's about up, enit?
Hey columbus, haven't you made enough of a mess?
Hey columbus, gather up your trash and carry it away.
Hey columbus, go back where you came from.
Hey columbus, john wayne has plastic teeth.
Hey columbus, last call.
Hey columbus, keep moving, no stopping here, move right along.
Hey columbus, whooee up there, hoosh! soooie pig.
Without pretense, Thomas Hubbard nails it here. The language ain't fancy, and neither are the sentiments, which contrast well with everything that Columbus represents: the elitist, gas-guzzling, resource-consuming, earth-desecrating powers-that-be run amok. In essence, our ruling class. The phrase that comes to mind is American Exceptionalism, for whose offensiveness we may well thank/blame Columbus himself.
One this is certain:
we need more poems like this.
We need more poets shouting this from street corners and rooftops.
More, I say! More!
A mixed-blood, of (probably) Cherokee, Miami, Irish and English ancestry, the American poet Thomas Hubbard grew up among factory workers in the 1950's. A teacher of writing and other subjects, he has worked also as a carpenter, blues musician and freelance writer. He won the Seattle's Grand Slam in 1995, and since has written three chapbooks, Nail and Other Hardworking Poems, Junkyard Dogz, and Injunz. He has also published an anthology including 32 spoken word performers, titled Children Remember Their Fathers. His poetry, fiction and reviews have been published in numerous journals. Hubbard has served as vice president of the board of directors for the Washington Poets Association, and currently serves on the editorial staff of two magazines: Raven Chronicles and Cartier Street Review.
This week's editor is the Seattle poet and artist T. Clear, who blogs here, and dislikes referring to herself in the third person.
When you've read Hey Columbus! Please check out the Tuesday Poets collective in the sidebar. We live all over the place from the US, the UK and Europe to New Zealand and Australia, and every Tuesday we post poems by ourselves or poets we admire.