Here’s a poem from the book.
Outside Papi’s Bodega, young boy in
summer’s native garb—white tank-top,
doorag’s a smooth blue crown garnishing
the stubbles of a week-old fade—regulates
a stereo knob while sitting shotgun
in a chromed-wheel Escalade—the ghost
of Tupac Shakur magnified in a subwoofer
like an opus—as long as
music’s kept all’s good where we come
from. If only a glare didn’t easily stumble—
if only manhood wasn’t tenured with black
powder in metal capsules, brown boys, free
to chase arcade mortality, wouldn’t have to
warily long for a ghetto’s heaven or if grief,
inherited each day they step into the a.m.,
would follow them into an afterlife.
But corners often treble the soul, a cold hope
in the fold & on Winthrop and Thorndale
the sidewalk pleats, stumbles a man in hooded sweatshirt
and blood-sodden jeans, fresh breaths
breaching his lungs—if only keeping eyes off
the karma and on the prize was what made this
world go ’round, it would be what was always
wanted—any landscape better than what’s here
—where on most nights, a native glare renders
a chamber empty as winter flower boxes.
From When My Body Was a Clinched Fist. Black Lawrence Press, 2020. Reprinted with permission from the poet.