Roger Bonair-Agard


(After Patrick Rosal)


To laugh at weaker boys (or at least the less sharp-tongued)

  to kick ball till the moon rose

  or something vital bled – we lived

To wait like predator

  for the first note of a slow jam

  to grind ourselves into the wall

 with a pretty girl between us

 and make sure our boys were watching


We were tropical  suave  post-colonial  oil money niggahs

and we had to do well – in all things

  in Latin

  in the First Queen’s Royal College Scout  band

  in talking shit

  and especially in football

so we practiced memorizing where

our defenders were

so we could look the other way

as we went past them

cuz it was only cool

if you made it seem effortless


we were sophisticates like that

looking for immortality in the tales of others

and most of our friends were still alive


To buy two sno-cone from George

   whose rickety cart parked outside

   the school each day

To have the cones stacked with extra syrup and condensed milk

To gather around the cart

  because George always had sensible shit to say


To follow that with the hottest  spiciest

  doubles from the doubles-man behind the cafeteria

  who built two multi-level homes

  off the profits from our purchases

To laugh at that irony


To pick on the faggot boys

  because we wanted our fathers to think we were men


To join the new dance-craze revolution

To stop traffic on Frederick Street

  just to see Doc, Scientist and Froggie

  spin on vinyl, pop-lock, head-stand

   electric-boogie, dead-man


To sit  on the steps

  of the downtown shopping plaza

  and stare at the beauty of our women

 To believe at sixteen

  that they were our women


To welcome satellite TV and music videos

  like it was God

  because who can see the future anyway

  It was 1984

and we were busy looking good

mimicking everything we saw


To go watch Gip play better than the rest of us

to see him collect the ball on the outside

of his left foot  count the on-rushing defender’s footsteps

and slide the ball deftly through his legs

while looking the other way

  effortless like that


Our bodies hadn’t begun to betray us yet

Kirk and Gregory and Rudy and Peter were still alive

Dave still had his legs

and the worst thing wasn’t  not doing well

only seeming   like you were trying too hard