For Gerald Who Would Be 35 Today
They said you took a step.
From the ghetto to more terrible
conclusions. The clouds
to my west carry light: diagonal,
the way you shot a basketball once,
while we in the bleachers held
our breaths and almost died.
Gerald, I thought of you today.
You came to me—the face
and shoulders of the boy
before the suicide, before
the body you left became a bundle
of rumors and whispers.
Crack dealers, gambling debts,
depression. It gets us sometimes,
quicker than some high school
point guard with blood on his wrists.
The steal, the feed, the bucket
to tie the game. And a free throw.
Why are you dead and I'm alive?
What strange confluence of things
have brought us here, to this day,
May 18, 2014, one of us breathing
taxi fumes and one of us not at all.
Both of us are bargaining and lost.