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By Jorrell Watkins

We shark mouthed, crusty lip, ashy ankle, hairline vanished, brothas
High water sportin’, reebok rockin’, nobody’s name brand brothas.

Clearance section Kohl’s shoppin’ can’t cop a football or B-Ball Jersey 
Non-athletic, asthmatic, couldn’t catch a glove, we the last picked brothas

Wanna kickflip like Tony Hawk but can’t even ollie as him on Xbox
Mama raisin’ Cain and Abel but we Kane and The Undertaker brothas 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon, even our favorite drivers are rivals
If not Nascar then Monster Truck, but would they let us drive as brothas?

Bikes stolen mama scold us told us to fight dem boys that jacked us
Came home with knots the size of lost pride, we gon stay inside brothas

Dell Desktop with AOL Dial-up makin’ templates for Bebo and Myspace
Had a virtual if not actual friend, made it look like we not brothas.

Ate boiled hotdogs on white bread, ramen noodles with little water
Guzzled maple syrup sweetened kool-aid, no sugar for us brothas.

Broke throat over every sista, whispered sonnets our mama wrote
Damaged ambitions hissed denial, a snake could’ve bit us brothas.

Back then we Mike Jones’ed our names, until they inflamed our block
When our hood hubris bore bruised noses, we lost respect as brothas.

The block wouldn’t take us in ‘less we brokered with young bloods
If a team of Tims stamped our initials on cement, who’d be our brothas?



Listen as Jorrell Watkins reads "Blood".

Added: Friday, June 24, 2022  /  Used with permission. Originally appeared in If Only the Sharks Would Bite (Black Rock Press, 2020).
Jorrell Watkins

Jorrell Watkins grew up in Richmond, VA. He is a 2020-21 Fulbright Japan Graduate Research Fellow, alum of Hampshire College and the University of Iowa, Writers’ Workshop. In 2019, Combined Efforts Theater Company produced his disability inclusive play, Meet us at the Horizon. His chapbook, If Only the Sharks Would Bite, won the inaugural Desert Pavilion Chapbook Series in Poetry. His full-length collection, Play|House shortlisted for the 2020 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry and the 2021 X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize. He collaborated with writers Claretta Holsey, DJ Savarese, and Lateef Mcleod to publish, Studies in Brotherly Love (Prompt Press, 2021), a poetry chapbook based on Malcolm Corley’s paintings.

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