July 14, 2016 / Creative Writing
In this poem, D. R. James writes of all the ways in which your hometown basketball games haven’t changed.
October 29, 2009
The hardest part was always letting go.
Posted in my too-fly-to-dance
what-if-she-laughs corner of puberty,
all Adam’s apple and weed smoke,
all stubble free and jock mouth,
prepared for the melting of my cool
at the beat drop. It took courage and patience
for a DJ to garnish Michael
into an evening of high school booty music,
and since my seven-minute “Billie Jean” routine
was just no good to a Dre beat,
I’d wait by the fringe of the floor
like a lion in tall grass
for hours until I finally got my turn.
The hardest part was remembering
I had practiced this before. In my living room
daily before my mother returned from work,
my rug burned bare feet burrowed into carpet.
Turning with toothpick precision to the
baseline, capsizing holy and suddenly
plugged in, a woken up puppet
all lock step and slide-glide,
crotch grab and air grind
pendulum knee-kick type-perfect
and beautiful like the first time
my friend made me snap my ankles
before a group of older kids
in the lunchroom. Reluctant and red-faced,
I threw down to “Rock With You”
every piece of dust cloud footwork I knew
like gambling chips at a table I wasn’t invited to,
breaking every heel-spin with toe-punch
and no apology. I moved like my cool
depended on it.
Adam Falkner is a high school English/Creative Writing teacher and Writer-in-Residence at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York City. His work has appeared in anthologies and journals such as Unsquared (826 Publications, 2006), The Barbershop Chronicles (Penmanship Books, 2008), decomP, Gigantic Sequins, and others, and it has been featured on HBO, BET and Michigan Public Radio. He lives and works in Brooklyn.