self-containment is like those
train cars, box cars, stacked on
semi-trailers whirling down
the highway full of contraband and
drugs, heading for the city.
now, ball bounces deep, resonating
through the neighborhood,
a pick-up game played by guys
arriving in pick-me-ups: green,
bright red, yellow, and a flash
of jugular foam.
floppy Nikes bite concrete, score
quickly, the bare backs of players
scratched red by fingernails,
the digging just deep enough
shouts erupt, the new guy arrives,
some pimp from the east side; no west side
guys smile, they hold in their
bellies and make cramped noises,
belches predicting defeat.
hiding fear, the guy dribbles a couple times,
flashes his jump shot, steals the ball and rockets
to the other goal,
tripped up at the last
by a well-placed toe.
flat now, the cement hot on his
belly, he cracks that smile, grinning now,
keeping his fear locked up, secure,
he’s well contained, comforted
by somebody else’s frown,
someone else’s grudge match.