I come from the cracked hands of men who used
the smoldering ends of blunts to blow shotguns,
men who arranged their lives around the mystery
of the moon breaking a street corner in half.
I come from "Swann Road" written in a child's
slanted block letters across a playground fence,
the orange globe with black stripes in Bishop's left
hand, untethered and rolling to the sideline,
a crowd openmouthed, waiting to see the end
of the sweetest crossover in a Virginia state pen.
I come from Friday night's humid and musty air,
Junk Yard Band cranking in a stolen Bonneville,
a tilted bottle of Wild Irish Rose against my lips
and King Hedley's secret written in the lines of my palm.
I come from beneath a cloud of white smoke, a lit pipe
and the way glass heats rocks into a piece of heaven,
from the weight of nothing in my palm,
a bullet in an unfired snub-nosed revolver.
And every day the small muscles in my finger threaten to pull
a trigger, slight and curved like my woman's eyelashes.
From Shahid Reads His Own Palm by Reginald Dwayne Betts. Copyright © 2010 by Reginald Dwayne Betts. Used by permission of Alice James Books.