Wanting no one to see the prickly hairs that stood up
like a fresh “Army-strong” buzz cut,
he tried wearing a hat to make himself feel tough.
By covering his dome he had the bravado to act black—
His royal blue Kangol hat was like Mother Earth
tilted on her 23 and ½ degree axis,
in a counter clockwise fashion
throughout the day,
especially when he went to Pin Ball Pete’s to play
his favorite arcade game,
The boy still trembles at the sight
of this tall, dark machine.
The game literally scared the shit out of him—
without a real father’s advice—
his cold hands froze,
afraid that if he moved the track ball in a similar clockwise fashion
his choices would eclipse his father’s and the name on the high score would
leave behind the shadow of a failure’s son.
Instead he was lost in the screen
like hippies high on mushrooms
chasing neon lights,
startled by loud explosions that sounded out of sync.
He shot down his father’s advice that life is an endless circle of bullshit:
“So always loop around, loop around, loop around like a concrete mixer
because once you get laid you’re stuck.”
Sick to his stomach the boy moved linear,
wanting his orbit to revolve around his mother.
He left the track ball spinning, grabbed his father’s keys and asked to be driven home.
He was sick of enemies;
He was sick of the trash climbing down dirt roads
as he traveled toward the gravitational pull of his mother:
As surfers feel ocean currents, he knew she wanted him ashore.
She was at home holding the remote
like she should have been holding him.
Crying because her salary could not provide
sidewalk chalk for her son to draw the whole world
on concrete blocks with his hands.
Wiping away tears with marijuana and fast food fingers,
she threw signals from her remote like a boomerang
as she tried to find her Guiding Light and feel her Passion
because All My Children taped over her favorite soap
As the World Turns.
Unlike the circular plots of her canceled soaps,
unlike the false promises of a wedding ring,
unlike his father’s endless circle of bullshit
he would only turn his hat east, south, west and back towards her
because he was her son—
but she was his universe.