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 a father sleeping it off in every master bedroom
of the cul-de-sac the morning after, so Saturday
morning is a snooze. The moon is still out, eyeballing
the quiet street like Sun Ra did his Arkestra. Somebody
has to be a father figure for all of those musical notes.
No school busses to huff after, no mothers yelling
their children onward. The only weekend noise is us,
kicking rocks—so bored we can’t even hear each other—
on a celestial swirl of asphalt that will be a playground
one day. We stand, right feet extended in unison like foos
men, rock after rock arcing at sorry angles toward
the open bar that hopes to dangle four swings. Some
rocks go through, some miss as we balance on concrete
meant to backstop hop scotch & echo knock knock jokes.
Not somebody’s father, finally up & at ‘em, yelling,
You got to be kidding me, after he opens the property tax
bill. Maybe these bars were placed here for some other,
future kids to be dragged away from by big ears
or red necks toward the unavoidable arguments, fist-to-face
noises & the bleating saxophones that come after.