Birth of a Clinched Fist

Born in epidemic—circa 1986 Jamaica,
Queens—when tiny white caps filled—
modern-day cotton—moored most under

a parking lot's dim cone of light—when
paraded in chambers of those born to triggers
was that sin which weaned father

from son; tricked out the best in us—
a resilient few kept from boxes,
though what was left was worsted in haze

on those horrid nights—when what was
promissory was plight was norm,
and what was dealt—mnemonic so strong

I kept it in my mind like one rehearsing
lines in an orograph for pain—
a pain, like bait, that turned gain

into the cleanest demise—when I stood
to cleave it, the fight empty as cavity,
the strife—marked by omission. Everything

I saw was enemy—even this face, fair game.