The first time I got high I stood in a circle
of boys at 23rd & Ridge tucked inside
a doorway that smelled of urine. It was
March, the cold rains all but blurred
our sight as we feigned sophistication
passing a bullet-shaped bottle of malt.
Johnny Cash had a love for transcendental
numbers & explained between puffs resembling
little gasps of air the link to all creation was
the mathematician. Malik, the smartest
of the crew, couterargued & cited the holy life
of prayer as a gateway to the Islamic faith
that was for all intents the true path
for the righteous black man. No one disputed.
Malik cocked his head, pinched
the joint & pulled so hard we imagined
his lips crazy-glued into stiff O’s. It was long
agreed that Lefty would inherit his father’s
used-car business, thus destined for a life of wrecks.
Then amid a fit of coughing I broke
the silence. I want to be a poet. It was nearing
dinnertime. Jësus lived here. His sister was yelling
at their siblings over the evening news & game shows.
The stench of hot dogs & sauerkraut drifted
down the dank hallway. A prespring wind flapped
the plastic covering of a junkman’s shopping cart
as Eddie Hardrick licked left to right, the thin strip
of glue at the edge of a rolling paper, then uttered,
So, you want the tongue of God. I bent double
in the blade of smoke & looked up for help.
It was too late; we were tragically hip.

“Blunts” was used with permission of the author, and comes from the book Leaving Saturn, Copyright © 2002.