My favorite student kept a pencil in his ear,
a razor beneath his tongue; he wrote
like a boy born ten years my senior and mumbled.
On marble and stone in indigo blue
tagged his moniker and caused collisions.
Hard livin
he told me, shaking his head
like a can of spray paint, eyes redder than thunderbolt.

Yet he burned through books
like gasoline caught in crossfire—that’s a start
I told him—but some were too much of a match.
Where stomachs balloon from malnutrition,
hunger is a hawk, and one needs gall
to clip its claws; God to him
was making sure his brother was fed.

Where herds of truants post on street corners, 
where lighters hover under spoons,
and dilated eyes look like saucers,
where human fecal matter soils landscape,
and dilapidated houses fold in on themselves,
where one man’s wealth is another man’s junk
he saw opportunity, he saw an end game.

I saw his face on an extra-large T-shirt drowning a girl.
I swallowed the courage to know what happened.
The worry festered in my stomach like an ulcer,
I needed answers. I needed someone to comfort me
to keep my mouth closed; I was asking for trouble.
Passing through neighborhoods as naked as a newt.
A little green in a blue or red district.

Myron Michael’s poetry is anthologized in Days I Moved through Ordinary Sounds and appears in such publications as Travel Magazine, Step Away Magazine, Toad Suck Review, and Spillway. He is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee for 2015, co-author of Hang Man, and author of a chapbook, Scatter Plot. He travels between Grand Rapids, Michigan and the Bay Area, California.

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