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.
& there’s no taking it back now.
What comes next? Charcoal underbone,
darkroom for soliloquy & irises wide
at home. Some underside party popping
off & ending with me counting resignations
on a couch made from my last pennies—
copper profiles cushion deep, dull
with emancipation & worth almost me.
Button nicks instead of eyes. Green
patina instead of skin over presidential
profiles. How to separate these awkward
exhales from the marinating revivals?
The song in the park across the street
dials up something endless about love
& big sunflowers, but I can’t split
this primal reflection from its primary
leather. Sneakers & skeletons arrhythmic
in their leaving & squeaking: twisting
in somebody else’s garden in the middle
of a cracked city near a river so thick
with its own beat-up history, it’s already
eye level to the flocking blackbirds.