Two Poems by William Woodruff

The Outsider

Leave me alone, damn you. And spare
me that puzzled look. You know who I am,
though you try not to.

I'm that ethnically vivid person whom
you fear, and so hate or despise, shun,
condescend to, the person you try to keep
out of your mainstream, the person you see
as an ethnic type.

Forebears of yours expelled tribal
forbears of mine from this our own
continents forests, rivers, mountains
and grasslands;

brought forbears
of mine to this country in slave ships,
bought, sold and worked us for generations,
offered us token freedom, then kept most
of us debased and destitute;
exploited immigrant
forbears of mine in your sweatshops,
factories and work gangs, paying us niggardly
wages for toil too degrading and dangerous
for yourselves, but not, in your scheme
of things, for us.

I'm also that person whom you fear, hate,
despise, shun for my -to you-threatening attitudes,
tastes, beliefs, afflictions, status, even
life style: the Communist, the Pacifist, the Feminist,
the rebellious youth, the homeless old man,
the alien you've deemed illegal.

In short, I'm the them in your them-and-us ethos.

Because you don't know me as a person,
you project onto me your own fantasies: grotesque
fantasies so primeval you don't think
to question them.

But I am not your them, not your other,
not your projection. I'm a human being
worthy of the same rights, the same powers,
the same respect you give yourselves.
My right to live my life on my own terms -
which, in a given circumstance, might
or might not coincide with yours -
bears the same weight as your right
to live your life.

So leave me alone, damn you. Respect
the person that I am. Let me fulfill
my life as best I can, without oppression
from you. Let me be.


des pair: de fifth tire.
décor: de apple's center.
depend: where de pool's bottom lies farthest down.
dependant: the ornament attached to de necklace.
debate: what de fish bite.
deliver: de meat you eat with onions.
denial: a river in Egypt.
depilatory: where you keep de aspirin.
detail: what de dog wags.
deploy: de stratagème.
defer: de soft hair of a rich lady's coat.
devote: what gets us our lousy Presidents.
despise: de CIA agents.
default: what, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars.
deduce: de lowest card in de deck.
deceit: a place to sit.
demote: de water-filled ditch around the castle.
defile: de dossier.
define: what de parking ticket makes you pay.
denote: de short letter.
detour: de guided way to see de place.
detritus: de dissertation.
depart: what de actor plays.
demure: de cat.
deride: what you buy de roller-coaster ticket for.
defeat: de raison d'etre for shoes.
defense: what keeps in de cows.
depose: de model's stance.
delight: an antonym for de heavy.
defame: what de publicity gets you.
despite: de grudge.
debunk: where de cowboy slumbers.
detest: what I flunked yesterday.

William Woodruff