from NER 39.2 (2018)
The headlights remember boys like us: black, unbroken
by the law. As they man us to the curb, Brandon says
he’s been broken before. But not like this. The car parks.
Two white men get out. Their blue uniforms adore their muscles.
You boys up to trouble? I want to kiss the question, make love
to the word “boys” as I have seen in porn. We’re told to sit. It’s cold,
Demicus complains. So busy studying the officers’ pelvises, I don’t notice
the flashlights searching our faces, our bird chests, our legs. I wanted
to touch what hung between their thighs. Got a call about some houses being
broken into. Know anything about it? Prayer would be wise, but I forget
to pray. Brandon says we’re heading to his house up the street
and tosses his eyes. A flashlight pulls from his shoes to his lips, shimmering.
Here, in the Southend, others know this recycled story. One by one, we are searched.
Nothing in my friends’ pockets, a pen in mine. They don’t know how, after
the frisk, the black boy in the porn is then scripted to blow the officers.
I think tonight will be the night I’m written into the perfect angle,
but the production crew never arrives. I’m not headlined. I’m sitting
next to Demicus in Brandon’s bed talking about the night’s remains.
Demicus says he has an idea and Brandon looks at me. I take off my shirt,
my basketball shorts, my boxers, say, Let’s stop bullshitting. Take off your clothes.