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A novel in verse … and the writing thereof
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The Argument Heats Up

The rest were still arguing. Nancy held the floor.

“—just ate in Chinatown last week, remember? It goes on

     for blocks and blocks.”

“That’s the problem,” Farley said. He flung out his arms.

     “America for Americans.”

“You’re against immigration?” Gloria said.

“Well, that’s it for me then,” said Marchenkoff. He pushed back his chair.

“Hey, what?”

“Well, Farley, my folks only got off the boat

     ten years ago. My mum

     still doesn’t speak English real well. So,

     if you’re throwing out immigrants—”

“Not you, Marchenkoff,” Farley growled, pulling him back.

     “Sit down.”

“So you’ll keep the ones you like?” George asked.

“Remember the President’s speech, ‘My

     fellow immigrants’?” said Nancy, and George nodded.

“Why didn’t your father change his name?” Nelson asked.

“You could still change yours,” Davison offered. “Then,

     no one would know. You don’t have an accent.”

Marchenkoff looked at him. “Good point. And if we cut off my head,

     no one would realize

     I had brown hair, either.”

Davison frowned. “Huh?”

I leaned forwards. “I think perhaps Marchenkoff

hadn’t realized his origins were

something to be ashamed of.”

Davison still looked puzzled.

“If we cut off your head,” said Farley,

“no one would realize

how stupid you are.”

“Farley!” Nancy scolded.

Davison went very slowly red.

“Sorry,” said Farley. “Out of line. Sorry,

Davey-boy. Okay?”

Davison paused, still trying to decide

     how offended to get. “Okay,”

     he said, and turned to Marchenkoff. “But what did you mean

     about your hair?”

“He just means,” I burst out,

     “why should he try to hide

     where he’s from?”

“Oh, I see,” said Davison. “Thanks, Linda.”

He turned to Marchenkoff. “Well, you see,

there’s nothing actually wrong

with your name, at least not back in—

wherever you’re from, but here in

the United States, you have to realize—”

I started to laugh. I couldn’t help it,

couldn’t stop. Farley snorted so hard

he got milk up his nose.

“What?” said Davison.

For once, Nancy the peacemaker

     had nothing to say.

“Stop talking, Dave,” said Gloria, “and

     come with me. You need to get out of here, or someone’s gonna

     take a swing at you.”

“What for?” he was saying as he picked up books

     and tray. “Who’d punch me?”

“Well,” said Gloria, considering us

over her tray, “Marchenkoff’s manners

are probably too good, and Farley’s just amused,

but I wouldn’t bet on

Linda’s self-restraint

myself.”

I saw him looking back at me, amazed,

     as they walked off.

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