Home > Poetry > That’s Not in My Job Description
Published: Thu Apr 15 1993
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
AGNI 37 AGNI 56 Class Race
That’s Not in My Job Description

despite that i overslept
and set a guinness book world record for coming in late
its still time for me to take my 15 minute break

pull off my sweater vest
talking shit

cross my sneakers on the desk
threaten to call my union rep
if these fools

_                                     _ dont stop lookin at me crazy
_                                     _ whisperin lazy
_                                     _ under their breath

but during my siesta
i eavesdrop on societys best

_                                 _ imagine im a distinguished ethnographer

on the black pbs
talkin with a british lisp
in front of a bookshelf

welcome to alistair cooke’s In Search of
today we pursue The Elusive True Nature of Whitey

_                                                         _notice as
_                                                         _our cameras
_                                                         _zoom in on

a pinstriped pack of business school well groomed brooks brother smoothies
encamped around a water cooler jostling for room in their natural habitat
wiping dunkin donut crumbs off their jackets and engaged in debates
on hot topics
such as:

_         _ nuclear waste the china syndrome
_         _ alternative methods of heating their homes

_                                                                           _and right before

_                                       _the herd starts to roam

_         _ the menfolk take part in the ritual
_         _ shooting of the styrofoam cups into the trash basket

and if they make it
they dance around like
they just saved the world

headin my way
lookin for some dap

so i try to look busy
which im good at

start rustlin charts
construct some new paper clip art
chew on a pen cap_     as if     _im seriously studying my messenger map

hmmmm  did you know that main street runs perpendicular to beech
_                 _ and parallel with elm for exactly 1 and seven/eighteenths of
_                 _ a mile
_                 _ before it intersects with west crest
_                 _ well blow me down

i aint got time to mope
worryin aloud about
how imma cope wid radioactive isotopes and mushroom clouds

_                       _when its me myself
_                                                              _thats about to explode

an overloaded low level gung-ho ah-so nigro rickshaw coolie
the company dr. doolittles thought they knew me
i talk the animals     como se llama            push–me–pull–me

bowin n kowtowin
eatin crow
holdin my tongue
hands clung so tightly to the bottom rung
cant even reach for the glass ceiling

_                                           _my feet planted in corporate dung
_     _ growing roots
_                               _in the ground zero
_                                                               _ terra firma
_                                       _ of affirmative
_     _ daily inaction

_                       _ copy xerox mop  remember the blue ones go on top
_                       _ shred fedex the checks  press the red button next
_                       _ fax wax collapse  the green mail sacks go to jack

right after i put my year-end evaluation
in the management trainee mailbox

one of them fresh out of college cookie cutter fuckers
invites me to meet the buddies for drinks at mcgillicuddy’s

i only wanted a nine to five
that classified didnt say nothin bout havin to socialize

now this wage slave
is t-minus nine heinekens from critical mass

_               _me and a few hoogie white democrats
_               _drinking after work rolling rocks
_               _smoking marlboros out of the box

all you can do is wait for the chain reaction show of ass

when one of em
looks me in the eye
_                                   _ and decides
_                                                       _ to say something to the colored guy

all systems go
the white folks start actin like they know

_                            hey bro er uh bro-ham_
_                           _ i happen to be a big rap fan
_                           _ went to see ice cube and michel’le
_                           _ at the hollywood palladium
_                           _ and i was the only white person in the place
_                            aint i soul brother_

there must have been another workshop on how to handle your
_     _ support staff
which in this craft is a euphemism for niggers n spics

itsa trip
watching a one-sided will to unite

if i could get in a word edgewise_         _i wouldnt
_                                                                   _since im with my boss
_                                                                   _and dont want to get fired
_                          _all i can do is sigh
_                                                                   _too chicken to pay the price

as they get excited
giddy from overexercising their rights

my dad owns a liquor store in the inner city_   _ so i know how you feel

ive read toni morrisons beloved twice
and even though i still didnt get it the second time_     _shes just so real

i believe that spike is truly five for five
no no you dont understand_                         _ i really want to be like mike

or maybe a harlem globetrotter
its my dream to send my daughter to spelman
where can she get a check up for sickle cell
whats the name of your hair gel/pomade
do you use a depilatory when you shave
how can i join the crips
just what is hip
i know its after the fact but i dont think king shouldve called for calm
i wanna be a minister in the nation of islam
isnt so and so such an uncle tom

when theyre through
they pat themselves on the back
and quote jesse jackson

we have to start on the front end of head start and day care
not on the back end of prison and welfare

keepin hope alive
i buy the next round

wonderin how it would sound if i changed my name to skip
placed a mike tyson kingsized if i ruled the world chip on my shoulder
went to a joint full of rednecks
put my elbows on the bar cleared my throat and said

then id go into my show

did you know i was elected to the senate inna landslide
and i was the only colored man there without rag in my hand for
polishin brass or shining shoes


at last weeks tractor pull i was the only spear chukker
drivin monster pick-ups over a bunch of crushed oldsmobiles


i sailed in the americas cup


i went to the university of vermont_     _ and rowed crew


i grew up in a two room shack in the appalachian mountains picked
myself up by the shitkickers went door to door selling berlitz and
scripture moved to utah sang soprano in the mormon tabernacle choir
married into the osmonds and now i spend my weekends smokin pot
with donnie and marie reading back issues of teen beat magazine


im included in the canon
im a cardinal in the vatican
im the highest paid player on the boston red sox
i own IBM stock
i play nazi punk rock
i drink coors extra gold by the case
i can say puke with a straight face
i have a seat on wall street
im an LL bean catalogue model
my art is in the metropolitan
i had a major part in a woody allen movie
and i do the broadway casting for tommy tune

but i wouldn’t give a shit about nuna dis
if i could just say_                           _ im a nigger who has enough room

See what's inside AGNI 37
Online 2016 Class Race Sexuality
Online 2023 Family Journeys Race
American Discourse
AGNI 97 Politics Race Gender

Paul Beatty was born in Los Angeles and now lives in New York. (updated 1993)

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