A Social Construct

“Race is
a social construct,”

he said,

and I jabbed him gently
in the face. My fist

was real. When 
real police
showed up waving
real guns and badges,
I indicated
that as whatever we all did next
in response
was a social construct —

whether or not I went
easily, whether or not
they took me down, whether
I lived or died or they lived
or died in the attempt — 

none of it was real
and all of it
could be easily ignored.

They did not ignore a thing.

Went to trial,
a social construct.
Was judged guilty,
a social construct.
Did small time
in a real jail.
Came out marked and
civically blighted,
a social construct.

Race is a social construct.
It works better for me
than for many. That’s

real. Money is 
a social construct
that works better some days
than others for me,
better overall for some folks,
much worse overall
for others. That’s 
real. 

What’s real 
is a social construct

unless it’s a mountain
or a desert or a robin
or a lion or the skin
you’re in, the hair you
grow or do not grow,
the strength of your pulse

and how quickly it stirs
at the sobbing of a child,
the sight of blood on a cracked street,
the jerk it makes as it slows and stops
in response to a bullet entering.

On the page, on the screen,
I’m a social construct
wishing this
was all I needed to be

to make real things,
to make things real.

About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

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