MUSICAL SELECTION: BLAHZAY BLAHZAY|DANGER
Free Verse Poetry
I used to date a boy from
the West Side who went
to our school on the East Side —
we were both young and dumb,
unattached to anything, still
searching for our own scents
and places to belong.
I hadn’t yet found the courage
to tell young men, I also fell for —
wanted — young women, but he knew.
He saw me on the court, often —
against girls, against boys, against
anyone who thought they could
cross me over and land a bucket.
My father taught me how to dribble.
My cousin forced me to use my left hand —
My uncle and grandfather dared the
boys in their neighborhood to give me
one shady look or it would be their ass …
They had better let me on the court,
and they did.
But back to the days of me
tucking long shirts into
Cross Colours shorts and lacing
up Karl Kani boots while carrying
a gym bag full of basketball gear —
sweaty from a hustle on the
court until streetlight o’clock.
He wanted me.
I wanted him.
And so we were, for five years —
off and on.
He was the only one who could
score multiple points on me; taller
by a whole foot and two inches, my
plan would be …
relax in 3-point country and let
Shooting was my saving grace.
We were the real
Love and Basketball couple,
scheming on and off the court.
I’d lost a lot of things with him —
a lot of firsts were torn down,
spat on, and stunted.
I hadn’t learned that
it only took 30 seconds to
pierce his heart.
It took 2 days for him to
settle in mine.
Were we too young to
be that much in love?
That was the question
my parents asked us.
But my father loved this
boy — plotted on him marrying me,
and was crushed when this
did not happen.
I had ruined it — that was inevitable.
He found someone else when we
were in our 30s — kept in touch
over the years until he proposed,
then it was unholy to speak to
me … I used to be happy
he had finally gotten happy with
I used to be …
As I got older, I just
accepted it — neither happy nor
sad, just aware that these things
happen, and we had
to lose each other in order
for me to find myself.
I can’t run up and down
courts anymore — my shins
are bad, my lower back is
garbage, and my knees have
seen their last days swerving to
box someone out for
But I remember those
30 seconds. I remember those
I wonder — does he?