The Halfway Home for Brown Boys by Gary Jackson

We rode in whoever’s car would fit us. Fatherless,
we raced down Topeka Blvd. We never slept.
Our mother woke us every morning
until she was gone. We sprang from our own
heads every day, killed ourselves
every night. We chased codeine with Rumple
and Southern Comfort in the freezer. Kool Aid
and Everclear, everything ice cold. We believed
good grades and well-meaning white folks
might save us. We cranked our allowances
high on every overtime paystub. We flashed
a smile at every car we passed, even when the police
pulled us over on our way to the show. Hands
behind us, asses on the curb, while all the white
boys of Kansas drove by, pretending not to see.