On the cracked macadam court in the shadow of The Castle on the Hill, below fake gun turrets built with bricks...
On the cracked macadam court
in the shadow of The Castle on the Hill,
below fake gun turrets built with bricks
years before our town cared about the two
sides of the New York Central tracks,
we played games where our colors were skins
or shirts, and gravity made us equal.
I was class president, a white boy
who could hit jump shots from fifteen feet
but never had the legs to reach the rim.
I learned the walk, the jive talk, how to pass,
lace my shoes, throw an elbow, learned
about dope and fourteen-year-old fathers,
pushed Afro’d boys for position under
a hole in the sky, guarded their Black Door
at the entrance to our school with its blown up
toilets, burnt out teachers and kids who called
me nigger-lover. Twice a day I high-fived
my way in and out, and they let me through
without a slap on the back of my head
or a knife at my throat in the schoolyard.
I can still smell the fear on both sides
of the bullet-proof glass, the sound of steel
against steel when the door slammed shut.