—after St. Joe Louis Surrounded By Snakes (1982), Jean-Michel Basquiat
In the purplish clutch between evening & more
evening, boys smoked cigarettes down to their minty
ends & talked about ass like mad hams & hips
like pow, mouths curling with avid adornment & vivid
hands shaping the air—palms down to palms up
in half circles of perplexity. The C shape the tobacco
still glowing between fingers makes is the closest
any one of these boys will get a girl’s hip today.
Which is why these boys, in thin tanks & hopeless
shirts, cut conversations easily from Watch how I get
at her to Knuckle up, fool, throwing shoulders & fists
at each other like minor superheroes with no villains
to fight. No capes in bare knuckles. No saving the block
either because every swing breaks something.