Patrick Rosal


Freddie claimed lineage from the tough
Boogie-Down Boricuas
who taught him how to break-
dance on beat: up-
rock headspin scramble and dive
We called it a suicide:
the front-flip B-boy move that landed you
back flat on the blacktop That
was Freddie’s specialty — the way he’d jump
into a fetal curl mid-air then thwap
against the sidewalk—his body
laid out like the crucified
Jesus he knocked down
one afternoon in his mom’s bedroom
looking for her extra purse
so both of us could shoot
asteroids and space invaders
until dusk
That wasn’t long before
Freddie disappeared
then returned one day as someone else’s ghost
smoked-out on crack
singing Puerto Rico Puerto Rico
las chicas de Puerto Rico
That was the first summer we believed
you had to be good at something
so we stood around and watched
Freddie on the pavement—all day—
doing suicides
until he got it right

Patrick Rosal
Freddie is reprinted from Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive (Persea Books, 2003).
Poem, copyright © 2003 by Patrick Rosal
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2005, From the Fishouse