BACK IN THE DAY
we dreamt of easy rides
fame in the ability to give a punch and take it
knack with a ball (pick a size any size)
or singing like deniece williams
east new york high school talent shows
pealed soprano and less than pitch perfect
immigrant parents encouraged
business school, secretarial college—that seemed
dream enough for us from el chorillo .
who heard of making a living writing
when there was dealing—where
courage weighed money and courage we held
against a bullet's love of our intestines
and odds on incarceration ravenous
for black skin.
the minute you say
back in my day
you're a fucking relic
—a saint's petrified middle finger.
now, worth is preyed for over a pithy
discharge of 280 clicks or the prayer
a verified sumthin-ur-nuther follows
your viral poetry—seemingly generated
from corporate dream angst machine.
i vision my daughter as mayor of this joint
uncrushed by starvation for applause
on a white smile neither earned nor suffered.
i'm afraid for all daughters
i want them to kick life's teeth in—not wait
for someone to tap hearts on theirs.
we thought our shallows
were as low as you could go—back in my day.