by Robert A. Kaufman 

I asked my ophthalmologist why my eyes are brown,

And he told me they were not.
He said, Brown is a color that is not really a color.

My eyebrows tacitly asked him to explain, 

He said, Brown is not on the color spectrum
Neither is pink for that matter. He smiled.

So if not brown, I asked, What color are my eyes? 

Colors, he said. Your eyes are blue and green and hazel
We just call that amalgamation of colors brown.

That’s like Texas, I said.
What the hell are you talking about? He clenched his jaw.
When Caddo first saw Germans, I continued, They repeated one word,

But the Teutonic settlers didn’t understand that word, 

Which began with a T-sound and ended with an S. 
But the middle syllable caused their brows to wrinkle.

So what did they do?
They did what slaves did, I said, To make their mark, 

They drew an X in between the T and the S.

Well, what did that mean, if not the name of the land?
It meant Friendship, I told him, Hence our state motto. 

So our state has a name that is not really a name at all?

Yeah, it’s a misspelling of a mistranslation of a misinterpretation, 

Which is funny for the George W. Bush jokes,
But not really funny, you know, not funny at all.

Well, your eyes have the same prescription.
Naw, I said, My eyes used to be brown. I smiled.
I just wish I knew the letter the X in TEXAS used to be

ROBERT A. KAUFMAN graduated from Brown and served as a Fulbright Scholar in Oslo. His writing has been featured in Blaire magazine, Extract(s), FD magazine, and Fjords Review. Robert is currently a MALS student at Dartmouth studying poetry.


  1. Bravissimo to the new Poet Laureate of TeXas!


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Belle Rêve Literary Journal is a southern literary experience. Our mission is to capture everything that makes the South and its residents unique through the best contemporary literature we can find. We publish new works weekly.