Touch

We made our own laws.
I want to be a Hawk,
A Dolphin, a Lion, we’d say

In stores where team logos hung
Like animal skins.

By moonlight,
We chased each other
Around the big field

Beneath branches sagging
As if their leaves were full of blood.

We didn’t notice when policemen
Came lighting tree bark
& our skin with flashlights.

They saw our game
For what it was:

Fingers clutching torso,
Shoulder, wrist—a brawl.
Some of the boys escaped,

Their brown legs cut by thorns
As they ran through the brush.

It’s true, we could have been mistaken
For animals in the dark,
But of all our possible crimes,

Blackness was the first.
So they tackled me,

And read me my rights without saying:
You Down or Dead Ball.
We had a language

They did not use, a name
For collision. We called it Touch.

 

From HIP LOGIC (Penguin, 2002)



 

Poems by Terrance Hayes

Woofer
(When I consider the African-American)

Touch

Wind in a Box