Passing

detail-achilles-and-ajax (1)
Passing

Gimp, Temp, Boykin, and Willie
Earl—their names still roll

off my tongue 30 years later
like metered poetry. I was 22

and freshly discharged from
college and a crowded, craft-based

psych ward. They were Black—
I was White. We road the hot

streets through Augusta, GA,
in an old school bus, converted

for hauling lawn mowers, weed
eaters, clippers, humans,

and rakes. Each morning, they downed
a gas-station breakfast—32 oz.

Colt 45’s—for hydration and gotta-
sweat-out-a-hangover grease.

Gimp—43, but passing for 75. Temp—
round and slow. Willie Earl—so

lean, knife-scarred, and pussy-
preoccupied, he looms even now

like Achilles shouting above
his low, dirty trench. Boykin—

goin’ places. They took me
in, fed me fried chicken, swapped

sips from rotgut, till—shaky
and medicated—I announced my

new job at a bank and, strangely
ashamed, passed on.

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