Gilbert Allen
I. Fall 1960, and a new
school year! Just think of it—
nine-year-old boys, strutting around,
appropriating shit-
faced Boston accents, shouting This
country must move ahead
with viggah! To the sideways smiles
of teachers, Mom and Dad,
even the principal. Weekends
to the Italian store-
keeper, who sold us sodas, watched
us stuff stuff (on a dare)
under our shirts. Stayed mute.
We were considered cute.
II. I truly don’t remember who
came up with it—but it
was in the “cafetorium.”
In a New York minute
we all intoned, Our country must
move ahead with viggah!
After a pause, revealing our
cleverness—No niggahs!
We went back to our three-cent milks,
nursing them in silence.
A PTA mom, chatting with
two black custodians,
said nothing. But she heard.
They heard. They must have heard.   

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