At the Middle School Dance, all the Boys Circle up for the Crip Walk

Their shirts are blue and red, 
striped and checked, the collars popped, 
armpit seams untouched by antiperspirant.

They are puppy-limbed and footed, 
eyes wide and unshuttered as lighthouses.

The music doesn’t matter: 
Backstreet Boys, Bloodhound Gang, 
radio-edit Eminem an arrhythmic heart-skip 
of censored somethings.

The boys take turns careening across the circle, 
hips loose, ankles floppy, knees jerking in and out.

The more daring snap their fingers, 
lean into the swagger.

None of them know enough 
to try and spell anything, their moves 
a scribbled mess across center court.

Here on this island, 
in a corner of the world far from 
everything, they know nothing 
of affiliation, of territory, 
of acting lookout on an LA street 
while hot wind sparks a cigarette butt 
still smoldering in the gutter.

In the flash of a single colored strobe 
their teeth are blue, then purple, then blue again. 
They laugh and hoot, jeer and clap 
as they each in turn shrug on so easily 
the soft-elbowed coat 
of taking something not their own 
and wearing it lightly.

Image: Photo by Alexandr Popov, via Unsplash.