by Clint Smith
You’ve been sitting in that desk
a lot lately. Just you, those papers & pen.
Feels like you barely use us anymore.
We remember when your whole
world relied on everything we did.
We’re the ones who made it
so the bullies didn’t pay attention
to how many books you read
but instead how fast we moved.
Won the race to the fence and back
every Tuesday in P.E.
Gave you something to claim as champion.
Sure, we’ll admit it.
We didn’t always know how
to act when the DJ turned up the volume.
The beat got faster, & we made you
look more Urkel than Usher.
But this was never in the job description.
Still remember when you threw away
the New Balance and first wrapped
us in Air Forces.
Walked into school with alacrity.
The pure white sheen of Foot Locker
glimmering like quartz—
an indomitable sort of swag.
Thought this would finally be
the moment Alexis Sanders
told you she really liked you too.
But nah, you’re still the big headed kid
who likes Star Wars & French architecture.
You always did take us for granted.
Wasn’t until you fractured your ankle
that you realized what we meant.
That we kept you standing upright
when all this world has done
is try to knock you over.
When all you ever wanted to do is run.
Clint Smith is a teacher, writer, and doctoral candidate at Harvard University. He is a 2014 National Poetry Slam champion, an Individual World Poetry Slam finalist, and was a speaker at the 2015 TED Conference. He has received fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop. His poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Kinfolks, American Literary Review, Still: The Journal, Off the Coast, American Literary Review, Harvard Educational Review and elsewhere. He was born and raised in New Orleans, LA and thinks cinnamon rolls are best served at room temperature.