Some days, away from me,
the air turns & I pray
pistols into my hands, as if
there is a peace that will open
up with bullets, with the blucka
blucka blucka of a hammer’s siren.
In the street, the boys play a game they call
throwback. It is football, every man
for himself as he weaves under
the wires above Mississippi
Avenue. The sneakers swinging
above his juking body like scythes
are fresh: Jordans, Air Force 1s & Chuck
Taylors singing death songs when
the wind blows hard enough.
Touchdowns are as rare as angels
& when the boy turns his body,
the RIP shirt slants against the wind,
& there is a moment when he is not
weighed down by gravity, when
he owns the moment before he crashes
into the other boys’ waiting arms & they
all look like a dozen mannequins,
controlled by the spinning sneaker
strings of the dead boys above them.
Copyright © 2015 Reginald Dwayne Betts
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.