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Secret Ninja

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You thought you saw me!
But you didn't.
I wear black turtlenecks.
Black panties.
Live in a tall cave!

You don't know where my cave is.
But I come out.
Every day!
To buy mustard & relish!
See what—

A man.
Walking away from me.
No good.
Smash him!
With a loud smash!
Smash his metal table and cards.

Down in my cave.
Put on my Seahawk gear!
Watch Parade of Homes.
Watch Ron Popeil put chicken & fishes
& burgers & pork & macaroni in the same
box. Hey! I can sell that
box! At school.
Where I smash the gym teacher in his head!
I don't wear my uniform.
I don't clean my locker.
I don't share my lunch with the athletes.

My lunch—mustard.
Straight from the packet.
No one sits next to me.
Keep working my skills.
Keep circling the word blood
in Macbeth.


It takes days.
It takes days.

Kiki Petrosino, "Secret Ninja" from Fort Red Border. Copyright © 2009 by Kiki Petrosino.  Reprinted by permission of Sarabande Books, Inc..
Source: Fort Red Border (Sarabande Books, 2009)
Secret Ninja

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  • Poet Kiki Petrosino was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of an African American mother and an Italian American father. She earned a BA from the University of Virginia, an MA in humanities from the University of Chicago, and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She is the author of Fort Red Border (2009) and Hymn for the Black Terrific (2013).
    Fort Red Border—the title is an anagram of “Robert Redford”—addresses love, intimacy, food, race, and contemporary culture. The first section of the book is a series of imaginative lyrics spoken by a woman engaged in a relationship with Robert Redford. In a Rain Taxi conversation, Haines Easton commented: “Petrosino’s speaker seeks to untangle sense, to make sense, to perceive and revel in sense—and seeks to do so free of the trappings of an at-large, hegemonic culture intent on bending her impulses to its will.” 

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