Alphabet Street

Prince Rogers Nelson, 1958–2016

“Adore” was my song
Back in ’87—
Cool beans, I liked to say,
Desperately uncool.
Except for you.
Florida, a dirty hand
Gesture; the state, pay dirt.
Headphones on, I heard,
In a word, you were sex,
Just in time. Who was I
Kidding? Then, as now,
Love is too weak to define.
Mostly I just ran,
Not yet sixteen,
Overreaching. Track star,
Pretty uniform.
Queer, of course. Adore.
Rewind: my beloved teammates
Sometimes called me Cinnamon
Toast Crunch, or CTC, being neither black nor white.
Until the end of time.
Vanity would never do it for me.
Would you? You were definite, the
X in my fix. And now,
You’re gone. The old, on repeat. The new
Zeal: zero.


Copyright © 2016 by Randall Mann. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 6, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Prince’s death hit me hard. It brought me closer to his music, and to a confusing, beautiful time, at fifteen, when I played ‘Adore’ on repeat; the italicized lines are from the song. This poem is for my friends Sabina Piersol and Miguel Murphy, who love Prince so much.”
—Randall Mann