After the Virus, Royalty Came Back to Rule the Land

Sitting here at the dining room table 
sun bouncing and shifting
through the curtains 
with sleep still left in the panes —
wide-eyes gaze at Farview Park.

Some Du-ragged, some hooded, sagging pants 
with creaseless Jordans 
Kings and Queens spring and splash on the half court. 
A white tee hulks a half-moon chuck 
from behind the arc. 
Dreds dance and dangle 
as another jumps towards the block,

the brightness of his shirt and dampness of his sweat
is pronounced in the crowning sun. Weighted blue jeans 
jerk high, then sink low in the height of their leaps. 
Another king touches down victorious 
as the ball ricochets through the peach ring. 
A queen reaches for the rebound and blasts back, 
“can’t believe that weak ass shit went in.”
At that second, a mosh pit with no hits, grips, 
or fists clenched commences. Hands hoist-up beltless 
back-pockets back into place. 

They rejoice like other marginalized bodies 
waiting to scream “mazel tov”
but they yell, “KOBE”, “Curry”, or “BANG-BANG”  
with the crane of contorted wrists left broken. 
The commotion of black bodies enjoying, 
stops some more kings cruising three to a bike. 
One tank-topped toddler atop handlebars 
as his big sister handles the pedaling and 
their cornrowed cousin projects directions, 
calling out cars 
as they ride across Lyndale Ave N. 

A new game starts –
one king possesses the ball –
begins to dribble. jukess left, 
throws hips right, head fakes twice 
with other limbs to throw off his opp. 
Sire shoots, then the concrete 
choreography begins anew. 
Ballet broken by “shoot for it”  
used to settle disputes 
while hydration is puckered
from a peach Nehi.


Lester Batiste is a savage writer in living color who writes for political, social, economical change and black futures. Born in Chicago, he holds an MFA from the University of Southern Maine, and an M.S.ED from the University of Pennsylvania. Influenced by Gwendolyn Brooks, Carl Sandburg, and Toni Morrison, Lester strives to weave traditional forms and techniques with the vibrancy and eloquence of African American speech and experience.