Rough blacktop,

crowded, yells, loud

4 basketball courts, but 11 balls

some in the hoops, mostly out however


hitting big red balls

against the white walls

a mini-bang with each bounce

some too high, some too low


each miss – wall or hoop

would hit the 11-year-old girls

gossiping, standing

between the hoops and the walls


walking through the danger zone

an obstacle course,

Tips From a Survivor:

keep your hands

above your head

close your eyes

and run through


grass fields

playing soccer,

imaginary goals

fourth grade girls

painting tree trunks

with wet mud


if I focus,

I think I can remember

the games we would play

truth or dare

was always a favorite


grass in someone’s hoodie

waving outside the bathrooms

we would dare victims

then we would follow and giggle


how could 30 girls

in a herd

go unnoticed?

we were 9

we did not know

we had no grudges

cooties had abandoned us

when we blew out those 9

birthday candles


“gosh” instead of “god”

“heck” instead of “hell”

“darn” instead of “damn”

you know the drill


shunning was alien

shoving was unheard of


we only used

the internet to draw.


our hands covered in

markers, ink, and

“This is Buggy”

not flirty nail polish


I still remember

the smell of the tanbark

the cold metal of the monkey bars

the feeling of home in a school


I miss

elementary school.

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