The Spirit of Washington

My brother Drew said the boy
must have smoked it before screaming
and punching a wall at the back

of the movie theater, when gloved
hands rushed him with tazers. Two pulls
left Jay naked in the woods behind
our high school, howling at a luminous

ball set in the dark felt sky;
was that what made Terrance lay
across the double solid lines,

then laugh as a neighbor swerved
to keep from crushing him?
This boat made of rolling paper
and herbs dipped in fluid used

to preserve dead bodies,
far from a cruise liner
sailing the Potomac.

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