by Christell Victoria Roach

The kids hustle the white off their feet
boogying in the shadows of their parents.
Somewhere a group of boys ditch the side-
walk to piss on a palm, and the concrete
dances in the distance like debs in December.
Dusk casts its shadow down the length
of the street. It is the hour where no white
light dares to take this way. The ground is still
so hot some boys’ eggsperiment sits, kicked over,
easy as a leaf blown up the street. Everyone moves
until even the white on the concrete sweats like thighs,
like lovers in a caddy. Windows open to the jazz
blowing thick as a breeze of bodies. The wind
is a heavy girl tossed over the shoulder. It catches
the smell of flesh after hours and even the tobacco
spit to the gutters. The avenue is Grand, as summer
heat at midnight fogging storefront windows gray.
Even the doors sweat. The streetlights drip like palm
trees where there is no colored bathroom. On the curb
the cuckoos take turns watching for blue lights
while some men play with powder. When they break
into a hustle everyone gathers at the corner to watch,
wonder, and wager if they are fighting or dancing.
One of the men plays chess in the day. One man
gets confused with every man in the Grove.
By morning, white folks will have a pressure
cleaner hose away the pee, sweat, spit, tobacco,
and blood stains they mistake for oil—save for
the middle of the road worn dark as a dance-
floor. They say it was traffic.


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