Animal Planet:
Steve Irwin Rides the Green Line

by Alan King

for Derrick

i look up from reading a book, 
see a white guy watching me
from priority seating—
shaking his head, trying
to make sense of this

i look around the train,
most brothers are bobbing heads
to the beats and rhymes
in their headsets

one even slides his hand over
cornrows, how much Keisha charge
for twist? he says into his cell

none of them reading though,
now i see why holding this book
i would seem out of place to him

why he would find me as
strange as the talking Gecko
in the Geico commercials

i imagine Steve Irwin replacing
the pasty spectator, the camera crew
panning the subway car before
spotting me, then zooming in,
playing the Crocodile Hunter theme
as the host speaks

holy dooley!! a negro male
reading a book instead of
the sports pages, poetry too?
a bit of a Langston Hughes
here, eh?
i snap out of the trance, hear
next stop Congress Heights, this
is the Green line train to Branch
Avenue     he’s watched me for
four stops! doesn’t even blink
when our eyes meet

i don’t know if it’s fatigue 
when all of sudden, Steve’s head
is on the guy’s body and the film
crew’s wavy mirage slowly sharpens
as Mr. Irwin speaks

next scene might be a bit too graphic
for the ankle biters, no mates, nobody
having a naughty or anything of that sort,
when we come back we’ll attempt
an interview

after commercial break—establishing
headshot, then a camera pulling away 
from the face of the angry stranger

g’day mate, i noticed you
reading a book

get the camera out my face, man!

now don’t lose your lolly mate, but
shouldn’t you be working on rhymes
or be somewhere caged—you know,
‘keepin it real’ trying to build
your street rep?

the stranger shoots Steve a hard stare,
sweat-beads surface the Crocodile Hunter’s
face, onlookers wide-eyed with amazement

it appears we’ve angered the poor bloke…
you people are too sensitive mate, no need in
us bluing over me ear bashing, cheer up mate

then Steve pats his shoulder,
metro riders gasp, viewers at home
watch the scene go upside-down on
their t.v. screens, they hear
people screaming see 
the background bouncing as
pedestrians run out the train
at the next stop

two pale arms extend, Steve is heard
pleading for mercy, viewers watch
a Timberland emblem expand as
it advances toward the camera lens—
crushes it—then white noise

Animal Planet: Steve Irwin Rides the Green Line by Alan King

© Copyright 2006. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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