Marcus Wicker

In Defense of Ballin’ on a Budget

Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like. —Will Smith


Damn Will— they’ve got you sounding mighty

Uncle Phil in these streets. Like the still calling

the Ketel One cheap. How, where we started from

is never done with our undoing. To get the job,

always stay starched, creased to death. Fresher

than the interviewer. Stop acting brand new

like you aren’t Slick Rick the Ruler of this particular

gem crow era. Like you didn’t whip a leased Jeep

in ’89. Nigga, please. The Maybach’s in your blind

spot. Go back to that playground in middle-class

West Philly, where you were kicking silly rhymes

trying to king yourself. When rocking a jiggy

blazer, paisley, with a snapback seemed like fun.

To impress upon the self, “I’m someone.”




“In Defense of Ballin’ on a Budget” first appeared in Narrative magazine, Spring 2017.