Dear boys

Your mother made me

write this

just in case, she said,

which kinda freaked me out,

so I said to her,

Da Man is fine, babe.

Won’t be no

in case.

 

When we got home

from the hospital

last night,

she was crying,

and I was holding her

trying to watch the game,

and she kept asking me

if I was okay,

and worrying

and whatnot,

so I just started writing

and we started remembering

and she stopped crying

and we started laughing.

 

So, yeah, if you’re reading this,

then once again

I guess she’s right.

 

This is my notebook.

It’s now your graduation present,

(See, Filthy. I did write a book!)

Do not

let your mother

call it a diary!

This is my journal

from the summer

of 1988

when I was twelve years old.

 

When Now and Laters

cost a nickel

and The Fantastic Four,

a buck.

 

When I met

Harriet Tubman

and the Harlem Globetrotters.

 

When I fell in love

And didn’t even know it.

 

It was the summer 

after the coldest winter ever,

when a storm shattered

my home

into a million little pieces

and everything that mattered

became ice and ash.

 

When me and my skate crew

lost the big contest,

I fouled up

big time – got caught

stealing – and not even

my mother

could save me

from almost getting

kicked out

of the game.

 

When there was no sun

no rainbow

no hope

and I got sent

to my grandparents

 

it was the summer

I ended up in jail

and thought my life

was over.

 

When soaring above

the sorrow and grief

seemed impossible,

and basketball gave me

wings.

 

It was the summer of 1988

when my cousin Roxie

and my grandparents

taught me

how to rebound,

on and off

the court.