Two “non-Mr. Browns” in their natural environment of the Puerto Plata seashore.

Diarist Anais Nin once complained of having to put up with too many stuffed-shirt “Mr. Browns” who were her husband’s colleagues. I will have to search in order to find which volume I read. All I know is that the name jumped out at me.


No to Mr. Brown
no to the tie tied tight enough
to choke
no to the stiff handshake
no to the deliberate syllables
like knives

just say no to the naysayers
raised eyebrows collective gasps and all
at your slightly rolled r
in your pronouncement
that you are school superintendent
college president
anything other than
night cleaner

even if you take
a thousand hours
of accent reduction
clad in the darkest suit
and tightest tie
you will never lose that lilt
you will never be whitewashed enough
you will never become Mr. Brown

no no no!
¡ay sí, ay sí!
I see said the blind man
open your collar
and throw your arms around me
and never mind the Kings and Queens of the Noes
who will never understand the ays
who will roll their eyes no matter what
share with me more queso blanco
with guava paste

don’t you dare force-feed me
any more Wonder Bread!