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Blue Line Incident

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He was just some coked-out,
crazed King w/crooked teeth
& a teardrop forever falling,
fading from his left eye, peddling
crack to passengers or crackheads
passing as passengers on a train
chugging from Chicago to Cicero,
from the Loop through K-Town:
Kedzie, Kostner, Kildare.
    
I was just a brown boy in a brown shirt,
head shaven w/fuzz on my chin,
staring at treetops & rooftops
seated in a pair of beige shorts:
a badge of possibility—a Bunny
let loose from 26th street,
hopping my way home, hoping
not to get shot, stop after stop.

But a ’banger I wasn’t & he wasn’t
buying it, sat across the aisle from me:
Do you smoke crack?
Hey, who you ride wit’?
Are you a D’?
Let me see—throw it down then.

I hesitate then fork three fingers down
then boast about my block,
a recent branch in the Kings growing tree;
the boys of 15th and 51st, I say,
they’re my boys, my friends.
I was fishing for a life-
saver & he took, hooked him in
& had him say goodbye like we was boys
& shit when really I should’ve
gutted that fuck w/the tip
of my blue ballpoint.

This poem first appeared in RHINO.
Source: Poetry (November 2012)

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This poem originally appeared in the November 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

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Blue Line Incident

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