I go down to the docks and join the Byrd Gang. They put a patch
on my back pocket and it’s official. We vandalize every brownstone.
We know where to buy the cheapest cigarettes. We throw rocks
through all the pretty girls’ windows and hope that one of them
will come out and show one of us her panties.
A month later, Josue from the Byrd Gang starts going steady
with Christine. He let’s us watch him feel her up. Their mouths
are squidknots. Arms, tongues buried. I tell the other boys
I want to fuck her so hard she forgets his name. It is the only way
I can think to protect what might someday become our child,
currently coughing up its lung in the corner. I do not tell them
how I want to firebomb an ice cream truck alongside
a woman in black and lick the wreckage off her face. And I especially
do not tell them that I want to put my arm around her
and get brunch in Park Slope after.
A year later, Josue and Christine get married, and the rest
of the Byrd Gang plans to try with the women again, this time
forming a doo-wop group. I quit. My tongue is a black cat,
and all the women I loved so far were superstitious.
I never sing out loud.
So I go buy new jeans, without patches, which I try on by myself.
I start avoiding Pennsylvania license plates. I forget how to talk to kids.
I start getting turned on by Jewish names. The phone does
or does not ring. It not being the Byrd Gang sounds the same
as it not being the woman in black. I want to move in
behind her ear and vacation on her neck. I hope we haven’t met yet,
because I no longer throw rocks through windows.