Here, in this square space, this cordoned tower, I pledge allegiance to the four Dominican baseball players slunked in the first four seats, blessed with their hanging curve balls, cursing the names of saints, bearing the names of dictators, living in the doorway of two hot tongues, one toe always on the threshold, one hand clinging to the frame, skin browning with the advent of spring break, breaking every single rule; allegiance to the Lenni-Lenape man, unemployed, back once more, reeking of smoke and conspiracy, rotten bottom teeth destroyed, staring, unabashed at my ass, the first one, everyday, in class; allegiance to the skinny bitch of a math major, body folded, folded twice into her desk, her perfect hair, the line of pink shimmer on each angled cheek, the firebolt of her bored stare, she hates me… Allegiance to the dyke in the back corner, so beautiful I can hardly bear to look: her Bowie tee, her beat-up books, headphones in before I even let them free, her I’m-so-over-this face, the traces of me I see in her, a liar, a charmer, coasting by the graces of another; allegiance to the single mothers: Paulette, Nakima, Nellie, Sarah, I could go on and on, to the girls with the pock-marked skin, the boys with blue-streaked hair, the freak of being 18, the I’m-all-alone ones, the Fuck-you-I’m-mean ones, the train wrecks, the run out of steam ones, the ones who write like 3rd graders, the ones who think I’m overpaid, the ones with the fadeaway jump shots, the ones with the fadeaway smiles, the ones who crossed the border in the back of someone’s flatbed truck who never should have made it who my father locked me in the basement, killed the lights who I had to move out of my trailer, there were tiny little roaches biting my poor baby on the neck, I’m sorry I missed, I love Shakespeare—here, in these strange worlds, buried by dying pines, they are under me: their short, squat, little thundering god—Get the lights! I say, and there is a flurry, then sudden dark: a curtain dropped on the sun, a curtain pulled back. I pledge allegiance to these souls beneath my puny, sometimes punitive, ever-fallible, chalk-smudged thumb, allegiance, even, to the perfect one: the white boy, the football star, son of the son of a Reagan voter, who drives the nice car, who wears the face of symmetry, the face the system wants to wear, the face of everything I was brought up to love, of everything I’ve learned to hate.
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