of suburbia in flux behind one of the town’s, count ’em, two
mega high schools. The sometimes-tended-to nature preserve
where green & green slide crisp between brisk handshakes,
where a middle-aged Jimmy John’s driver suddenly halts
his ’98 Corolla, goes noiseless. Where the sun isn’t exactly
booming, but it’s Sunday morning & I’m in my feelings,
so I clop off a few paces, nice & easy-like. I mouth hello
to the loveable maintenance man. Hello,
loveable maintenance man I nod. He fusses with his
mustache, flicks it out in a full tilt wave. In the way
of mise-en-scène, I feel compelled to say it’s 2014.
I’m a black, American poet, newly thirty & middle class
for the Midwest. So far it’s the summer of two brothers
unarmed, erased, posterized. Two more & I live
my best days outside like this, under threat
of rain: me, my bad form & no one looking on
with the evil anvil of a hoisted eyebrow. The deceptive flip
of an A-line bob—hand readied to protect the old money
maker. Accordingly, smoke: a slinky Asian teen
makes his body into a nickel, wheels up the wide alley
between me & the trail’s opposite edge. Our shades, night-
slick, reflect one another—different frames
from about the same shelf. I catch myself for an instant
in his left lens & wonder was it the Rocky-look
I’m rocking? Was it the bare bones, bone-white, hooded
Egyptian cotton track suit drawn tight around my head
like a swim cap? (It’s summer here.) Or the ox calves
teetering a chest somewhere between barrel & breasted,
depending on the wind, the Taylor Swift–red grin
of my diabolical office nemesis, or the moon
cycle, maybe anything? Fin—
In the director’s cut I’m the one being fatally
femme: I pretend to check my face in the rearview mirror,
pull a plume from a pinner & squeeze the trigger
on a can of lavender Febreze. I chase myself out the window
smarting every time someone flinches at the sight of me.
Metaphorically, I could only be the pitch dark
asphalt simmering in this parking lot. The fog lifting off
a black tar river, already gone. Though obviously, given
the opportunity, nay the luck—I’d play delivery boy,
even maintenance dude. Anything but walking dead
man. & I’ll be damned if I didn’t just run
all this way to tell you that. Fuck.