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“Blooming Late”

As Dodgers prepare for Spring,
dogs wet with indignation look sharply
at me as if I was always who I am.

Last summer Dodgers streaked and won,
won and streaked, carried momentum
all the way into the penultimate round.

There Joe Kelly of the Cardinals beaned
our best player.

At five foot zero, 105 pounds I entered
my freshman year of high school. Five years
before that I was carrying boys on my back,
many of them – a kill the carrier legend.

I was going to be great.

Growth stunted by confusion, I did not
deep down see the point in love if all
roads lead to divorce.

I drank alcohol by 5, last sips of bourbon
and water on Dad’s lap learning about
the highs of drunk, but also in doing
illegal acts.

At twelve, the end of seventh grade, I began to
seek out days and nights to drink alcohol
with friends, sauce it up—

It didn’t take much to knock me over, felt
good to have something intimate to
tell Anne, the girl I liked.

I couldn’t say “I like you,” but had fun getting
attention while “hungover.”

Alcohol and confusion, unable to express love,
my body did not accept puberty until puberty
had nowhere else to go…

When it finally happened, I was more lost
and confused, unable to be a loving person,
and if not a loving person… if not honest,

What are you?

I bloomed late, told my A.A. sponsor I loved him
in 1996, making me about twenty-four years old
when I first opened up.

Betty Ford social worker, Lee, started that ball
rolling. Both Sponsor and Lee are black men. I
am black inside, craving the honesty of poverty,
the spirit of the religious, gospel songs jazz
and rap, soul music mine—

A black nanny raised me, my name tells me we were
involved in slavery. I cannot rise sometimes until
I say a prayer and shut out the lies—

God is in me, the truth a song sung deep in the
heart of romantic trees. I tried so many careers
before dying into one; dreamed a million dreams
until I settled on the one giving me lines to write,
Spanish and English monologues, suffering the song
of the enlightened, sing it on the other side.

I forgive Joe Kelly, know the Dodgers will be
back the boys in blue attacking the cracks that
made us weak, injury and naiveté.

God bless the late bloomers, the ones who did not
grow right, grew left, grew up tall with so many

I tell the young men when I see them: tell her
you love her, pray first but tell her, be honest
live your dream, because this body of ours is
not what it seems.

Cold in the middle of the night, the eve of thirty
years old you will sag, you will age;

Make sure that when it does you are ready, you
have the stories to tell that said you lived
your teens and twenties, you will not cry
the lament of years lost, regret…

Sadness can be avoided honestly coming
to God and fellows while there’s still
time yet