Poet of the Week: Aaron Samuels

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My dad gave me an ice cream cone the first time
I was suspended from school.  Let’s cut to the chase—
racism.  My only mistake was that I played tag with
a white girl.  A teacher confused our joy for violence.
I remember the first time I felt joy
I was two and found a pool cleaning net,
the small ones made with a hollow rod, to grab
the leaves and insects from the surface.
My first friend, Zachary, a white boy,
ran away screaming while I held this weapon
with new strength.  Leveling the net

over his womb-curls, drinking in my first capture.
Years later, when I am surrounded
by twelve boys, without hesitating,
I break the biggest one’s nose.  I crush it first
with my hand, then my boot, then hold his
curls in the net of my fingers as I clap his head—

an applause against the sidewalk.
This is the part where I am suspended,
or where I am my father, or his father,
where I remember the first time I found this feeling

and hold it behind my teeth,
as my smile grows larger,
with every strike.

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