Take | Literary Arts | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

I did't know the sound of my walking,
the pale white sight of me could give a gun
or a knife a reason to exist
and yet I couldn't look up at him.

All I knew was the identity of leather.
White high tops,
his laces like black streaks,
a line I wouldn’t cross to look at him.
My eyes travel to the stitch at his feet,
a glowing green lightning bolt on either side.

Actually, it only takes ten seconds to walk past the white dude,
pants hanging below his ass,
break the lock of his stare
until all you can hear is a sound
like a cash register being thrown through a window—

car alarms going off, rap music pouring out
of an Escalade waiting at a light.
But in reality, there is nothing,
only the sound of your own labored breath
and the possibility of stop it and hey
and This gun is real motherfucker.

Though when I look up at him,
all I can see is a boy lost,
not wanting to take what he could have.

He shakes his body,
toe drags to music, a few loose notes.
Blows smoke as I pass,
hi- fives his buds —

Fist bump
and explode.

I didn't want to be him.
And yet for a second I craved to know
what he knew.
That he could take what he wanted
and no one among the living
would ever stop it
from happening.

— Bob Walicki

Bob Walicki is a member of The Pittsburgh Writer's Studio and founder of the literary reading series Versify, at The East End Book Exchange. His poetry appears in Blast Furnace, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Stone Highway Review. He lives in Verona.

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