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Southend Shuffle

I remember how the school laughed, marveling
how a pretty white boy could take a beating
when a pair of sistas jumped him on 10th Ave
by the Glen Park apartments, skinning him

for his Oakland Raiders starter. They sashayed
between lunch tables the next day, twirling
in their trophy like Naomi Campbell
on a cafeteria catwalk.

We return from summer in new clothes, now
he trades penny loafers for BKs, cardigans
for Cross Colors, his Jordan Knight pompadour
for a bucket hat pulled low over his brow.

I should hate him, how he tries to sit at the Black table
in a way I never did, laughing like a seal at their jokes,
trying to play the dozens. When he slings rhymes like
the darkest white chocolate, someone clowns him

how he was rolled by girls serving
in school suspension. Then they ask him to do
that King County Southend Shuffle, fake high
pitched scream, mock striptease, clothing removal.

He regards me uneasily in the locker bay as I hum
a new release from Oasis, a godless pariah
in shoulder length braids and a Pearl Jam t-shirt.
I tell his associates to fuck off

when they call me a half breed sellout.
We were never friends. But I wonder
why I whisper I’m sorry
when no one is there.

Christopher Rose is originally from Seattle, Washington. His poems have appeared in Crabfat, Fjords Review, The Pariahs Anthology, Yellow Chair Review, TAYO Literary Magazine, The Hawaii Review, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, and others. He is a Cave Canem fellow and VONA alum. He currently teaches creative writing, composition, African-American Literature, and Science Fiction at Portland Community College in Portland, Oregon.

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