I never had hops, so I got on at Bertha Ross Park the same way
I kept my spot on the middle school squad: immaculately
free-throwing with follow through, flicked wrist left hanging
for the imaginary game winner when winner meant fly girlfriend
instead of sulking solo in the gym corner like I was back
at the Spring Formal as one slow jam after another played
for the couples-only dance. At Bertha Ross, we bunched into
our pickup corners, right in front of a white construction worker
who said, Gerry Cooney will put that big nigger in his place
to no one while chewing a ham sandwich down to the red rinds.
We all heard him say it between warm-up behind-the-back
dribbles & almost-raindropped jumpers, but acted like we didn't.
& we almost won the game anyway until somebody's drunk
uncle in a Peaches & Herb shirt called one of those old-man fouls.
But Cooney didn't beat Holmes. He didn't even come close.