A decade before, my brother
and I were strapped inside the leather
belly of an Oldsmobile 88 that roared

like something feral, with speakers
coughing up bass and spitting rhymes
from Busta's first album. I don't recall
where we were headed, just that we

cruised the city with our fresh
haircuts and fragrant whispers
of Egyptian Musk behind our ears.
We thought the secret was in scented

oils, or the abracadabra of a barber's
clippers reducing stubborn curls to rows
of waves. What we would've given for
the answer to the riddles of women,

the open-says-a-me to a hidden door
in the wall they might have erected
for trespassers. And wasn't it something
deeper than what our father called

a "lack of game," when science
defined pheromones as nature's airborne
love potion? That decade, we rode
with the windows down; the breeze

a cool tongue lapping at our sweaty
foreheads, both of us wondering
what the recipe was.

Alan King's fiction and poems have appeared in the Arabesques Review, Warpland, The Amistad, and Fingernails Across the Chalkboard: Poetry and Prose on HIV/AIDS, among others. A Cave Canem fellow and Vona Alum, his work was also part of Anacostia Exposed, a collaborative exhibit with Irish photographer Mervyn Smyth that showcases the life and energy of Anacostia. (

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761