I’m playing basketball
in the alley of two strangers,
with painful laughter, as reckless
as Uncle Jess at the bar
of the Brown Derby in Garland
head down with his hand
around a drink, half-empty.
The man, the whiskey—
both sit still.
We throw hook shots like the Big Dipper,
missing the hoop so badly
as if the ball loved the hoop
but couldn’t admit it.
The stiff leather Wilson rattles
in the bed of an old truck
old like the duplexes, the neighborhood,
the theater where the threadbare seats stink
of popcorn, and the shows are reruns,
finding new ways to get lost in dark rooms.
Places aren’t haunted anymore;
the city scared all the ghosts away.
Except here, where the ball bounces
off pavement and gravel, echoes
through thick nighttime conversations
and constellations, ricocheting
off the backboard and through the net,
stopping only for a drink.
Ben Read lives in Spokane, Washington, where he is a junior at Lewis and Clark High School. He has been recognized by inroads, RiverLit, Airplane Reading, and The Adroit Journal. Other than writing, he likes to assault people with philosophy while participating in speech and debate, attend and read at local poetry slams in tiny coffee and burrito shops, and listen to music similar to the Juno soundtrack. He wishes his dog Wally would be a better muse, but until then, he’ll have to stick with the river.