When 213b finally opens in a crack of yellow linoleum, Garrett comes out with the left side of his afro as flat as the tire that used to be on his mom’s car & the stuck snick of the cheap door locking behind him sounds exactly like someone trying to light a smoke with an empty lighter. Carriage House East, where menthols cough like a window slamming shut & outside that window, somebody’s radio is already popping static. What’s left of the moon is popping white on blue. That’s when we stamp past the squat HUD brick toward school in the dark: shadow of the green trash can gang signed with misspellings, a mimeograph of Mickey Mouse flipping Iran the bird in the landlord’s lit window. We made the same middle-finger motion to the school bus before ignoring our bus stop & kept walking neighborhood- style—right hands skimming from chest down to waist then behind the back like a bad breast-stroker cupping air. Cue the sirens snagging the matted air like a cheap pick. Cue the smoker’s cough of early-morning walks to school. We strutted a backward lean like every one of the unconcerned streetlamps alternating between our side of the street & over there—in front of the fenced-in porches missing slats like teeth in a punched smile where Garrett’s cousin leaned against the side of one of the front buildings. She put two-fingered guns to her temples when she saw us: red patch of smoker’s skin around her mouth like a raw sun rising.
Basketball feat. Galileo & EPMD
I split every bit of sunlight at College Park’s ball court—
land of sweaty Rebook tees & patriotic wristbands—
escalating to the rim like every player on that court would do
to the Lafayette Square Mall mezzanine on weekends.
Every bit of tangled shine around my neck: a hypotenuse
of intention. Highlights are the only lights in my low-rise
space of sneaker to shin & elbow to crown. The only time
I dunked, the court exploded like a party hearing “You
Gots to Chill” for the first time. & when the smoke cleared,
I hung as tight as a sweaty headband on that rim, talking
smack to the other nine ballers & to their nine mamas. Then
the slipping & cracking. Then the next two months left-handing
jumpers, blurry scribbles on my cast, the basketball rotating
as insistently as the back-spinning apple that split Galileo’s wig.