I was at home lying in bed,
listening to the world wake around me:
a woman yelled from the street,
I’m gon’ fuck you up.
She and her man knuckled up.
They were undercard fighters
no one bothered watching, but me.
He threw a jab that barely missed.
And I thought about that day
at recess: I slapped Nicole, thinking
it was the only way she’d chase me
like she did the popular boys. In fifth grade,
she was taller than me
with a body like the women
in my mother’s church,
the ones whose juicy curves
made my brain bright as a Lemonhead.
I watched the match
from my window, the couple’s clumsy
footwork almost tripping them up.
Bring it on! he spat.
And I can still hear Nicole
panting behind me, yelling:
I’ma punch your face!
A week before the chase,
we were in Kevin’s room
talking about the girls at school—
which one’s tongue we’d let
tango across our own.
And which one’s legs
we’d gladly nibble along.
My nerves fizzed like Pop Rocks
in Nicole’s mouth.
My boys laughed
when her name came up.
Kevin said, Good luck
trying to get her attention.
The boxers outside
were still at it—she dodged his jabs.
Her right hook slammed his jaw.
God damn it! he yelled
and the fight was over.
I watched him hold his jaw,
and recalled how my ego took a blow
when I saw Nicole
hanging with a boy too cool
to wear his pants on his waist.
This is the cost of not saying
what I felt. I should've told Nicole,
after catching her scent in the hall
before lunch, I'll never think
of strawberry Bubblicious the same.
I should've made her laugh,
joking 'bout the gym teacher—
Hulk Hogan's look-alike with black hair—
or offer her some of my spicy fries.
I wish I hadn't made her
a cyclone of curses and punches
spiraling towards me.
Alan King is a Caribbean American, whose parents emigrated from Trinidad and Tobago to the U.S. in the 1970s. He's a husband, father, and communications professional who blogs about art and social issues at alanwking.com. He's also the author of POINT BLANK (Silver Birch Press, 2016) and DRIFT (Willow Books, 2012). A Cave Canem graduate fellow, he holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the Stonecoast Program at the University of Southern Maine. He's a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and was also nominated three times for a Best of the Net selection. He lives with his family in Bowie, Maryland.
Grace Cavalieri is founder and producer of “The Poet and the Poem“ on public radio, now from the Library of Congress. She celebrates 40 years on-air in 2017. She’s has 18 books and chapbooks published, the latest is WITH (Somondoco Press, 2016.) Cavalieri has had 26 plays produced on American stages. Her newest play is “ANNA NICOLE: BLONDE GLORY.” The play is inspired by Anna Nicole: Poems, published by GOSS183. Her poetry has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s “Verse Daily” and Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry.” She is the managing poetry editor for PoetsArtists.