I Think I Know One When I See One

Cortney Lamar Charleston

In the mirror, admiring those pretty-ass eyebrows —

       arched to perfection, enviable in terms of thickness,

               their condition nice enough to inspire somebody’s

                         asking whether by choice or not, if deliberately

                                 done, maybe tweezed or waxed, because they

                                       are just too fine. Flawless. Raised, but in a way

                                            that raises suspicions as to whether the pictures

                                                  in his bedroom hang crooked because of some

                                                       eccentric taste. But they, in fact, are what he was

                                                         born with, among other things, such as a penis that

                                                         runs warm at night or eyes like hurricane spindles,

                                                        that study how men stand like obelisks of rock salt,

                                                   how some of them stride as if their legs are separated

                                             by a big inconvenience, how every now and then their

                                        faces fold over perfectly on the hinges of their noses.

                                  But the men are not looking his way to know they are

                          being looked at, to misinterpret the gaze, to shape

                 their own brows, at once, both skeptical and scared

          of something between them, perhaps an opposite

      charge, feared so much so he utters, if not spits,

   some flagrant word that must be struck down to

protect reputation: hell naw, I ain’t no damn fa …

because that’s truth in the raw, because if he had

been one, stomping about these streets, he might

already be on fire. Flamed by the fellas, in flames,

rather than in this bathroom with unflattering light,

           trimmer hot in hand, revising his hairline a line

               across the brow, booty call due soon to set him


about the author