By: Clint Smith
It began with a game of two-hand touch, though such
administratively imposed regulations were quickly
forgotten as soon as the Isley Brothers record started
playing and the teachers two-stepped off into the distance.
Coach Lonnie turned toward the grill, spatula in hand,
ready to turn burgers into reprieve from subpar report
cards. We called him Coach, although his large belly
belied the athletic prowess of his past. He flipped his
fleur-de-lis cap backwards and threw on an apron
that read, Always something good cookin’ in my kitchen.
I had just learned how to spell innuendo though I still
wasn’t sure what it meant. Later, The Hot Boys
were blasting through large Sony speaker’s that turned
everywhere within a 200-foot radius into unrepentant
celebration. Lil’ Wayne assuring us with brazen certainty
that the block indeed was hot, even the most secure
of us heeded the warning to check the soles of our feet.
After we ensured the safety of our appendages, we returned
to the feast. Hot dog in one hand, Kool-Aid in the
other—all of us singularly committed to getting our roll
on. The girls danced in clusters, becoming accustomed
to the bourgeoning parabola of their hips, learning the
power they wielded over boys who were dawdling
amalgamations of awkward and bravado.
Prepubescent pick-up lines made rejection quotidian
and gave your boys ammunition for weeks come.
Clint Smith is a doctoral candidate at Harvard University and has received fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop. He is a 2014 National Poetry Slam champion and was a speaker at the 2015 TED Conference. His poems and essays have been published or are forthcoming in the The New Yorker, The American Literary Review, Harvard Educational Review, Mason’s Road, Watershed Review and elsewhere. He was born and raised in New Orleans, LA.