The Will of a Friendship

Forged of best intentions, coincidence, timing, place
Finding friendships isn’t the hard part
Lasting through the forge is.

Game players, hikers, campers
We played and worked together
I absorbed your mom’s attention
chittlins, Tammy was perfect for Marvin
Iron-hard times when cockroaches didn’t bother—
cross-fades and swishes did
Watching Cowboys and Sooners
Staring at 1970s silhouettes and flipping through vinyl

Fighting like hell, playing like champs
You wrestled and I talked
Your Marlin, my Joe
Saturday and summer hangouts, sleepovers
Steel hammered Friday night fistfights goaded on by older brothers
A can of spray paint, late night video games,
and hip hop records
these things defined our early teens

Until one night
it shattered at the seam
metals failed
Bending like youth do
when painful experiences aren’t optional


Criss-crossed streets and
a mad dash home
running from
three dudes standing at the Impala’s trunk
their eyes glazed
a high school football jersey in blue among them
them, all in blue

What are you doing in our hood
I live right down there
A fist
My best friend, mixed, stood aside and watched
We were smaller
And I was white

The fist in my eye
blood in my mouth
that aluminum taste and
steel-toed boots in my ribs
The rhythm of deep bass from the Impala
seemed to throb
to crickets chirping
in that soupy black night

Fireflies flickered on the walk home
I limped
We didn’t talk
and I bawled when I saw my mom
“They beat me up! Those fffffffff…uckers beat me up! I got jumped!”
screaming, and then I cried.

We didn’t hang out much after that
No blunt conversations
No redemptions
The will of a friendship
broken under pressure
of race
of loyalty
of loneliness when we were there together

Tonight I’m twenty-some years older
and I am left with
crickets chirping
bass booming
fireflies flickering
blood dripping
aluminum tasting
and us, finished.

Friendship can be fickle
and sometimes we go through things
on our own.
Even when we’re with other people.
That night memories were lost to presence
and tonight I remember
we weren’t steeled enough
and the forge was just too hot

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *