cuz he put up his finger to celebrate before the 3 even went in back in ’86 / during the three point contest / i guess he knew it was good / or i guess he knew he already won / like the white boys in bexley who we would find when there was no food in our kitchens / and play them for whatever money their parents could spare / knowing they couldn’t hang / cuz tony and mario just made varsity and we could take their money easy / and they would always get more / their 3 pointers would smack the backboard / the rim a trembling halo / and still their hands raised letting the late summer drink from an underserving fingertip / before they walked home on a street where no one had died / while we took twenty dollars to mcdonalds and got enough food to last the weekend / i know that if i sweat enough i will be fed / or something will be built / but not bear my name when it is finished / i tear open a hamburger and my fingertips are slick with grease / i hold them to the sky but no breeze comes / always the eager mouth / never the hand that feeds / when i score 20 against watterson / their student section calls me a nigger / a small price to pay / for my name in the newspaper / a picture of my face / three pages past the section where my grandmother checks for funerals / they say to have your name stripped and sewed back together by the same hands / is a kind of victory / where i’m from / none of the black boys celebrate / until the ball slides through the net / falling satisfied from its mouth / this is what waking up without a mother will do / the story about larry bird goes / he walked into a locker room that night and asked / which one of you is playing for second place? to a room full of black players / and no one made a sound
soon, it will only be me and the ones that lumber through the mud, carrying themselves from one nap to the next. They may not even be spared. I am sorry for all of the driving. I don’t want to destroy the earth, but there is no city that takes kindly to my footsteps when the moon is out. I imagine a flood will be the way this planet finally gives up on us. Waves unwriting a city while the hands of children reach for what they will soon know to be heaven. The man on the news says the world is as hot as it has ever been. He says everything is melting. I measure the heat by how many niggas in the hood get buried. I never stop sweating. I wear shorts when it snows. My father asks if I’ve learned how to swim.