Christopher R. Vaughan
Game of Three, Kern Park
Just guys swapping sweat,
we trade names and hoops to fend
off summer's last breath—
it's me, Rick, and Ken
scraping for space and the holy
Rick loops around till he
sees a gap he can smoke through
and feathered in for two
that's nineteen to my twelve, Ken's six,
so we know
his next shot's a brick—
can't win from the stripe—and as I
rebound and kick
out I hear some quasi-
praise or curse in Ken's rasped
shout of "Bird has it"
—nothing new since last
week's cry of Bob Pettit
as I shoveled a pass
to a kid in Bucks' threads—
but now Rick puts up my
miss to end it—Shit,
I breathe out at pride
trounced—to think there's always a curse
to mark divides—
and shaking off scars
we strap helmets on mopped
brows to part ways, but first
I see Rick stop,
fish out a joint, and hear him
ask Ken if I'm a cop.
Cancer: Young Woman's Reprise
You hear idioms of bad news, "biopsy"
The only clear word his pursed lips leach,
His coat so white it's a mirror refracting
Your hips are two arms hugging
Themselves a moat, dark-pebble eyes zeroed
On a carpet pattern you've trained them to obey.
You make out "early detection" amid seas of English
Washing you to underwater nightmares—
Lick devil-tongues into a seaweed-week of
Lab tests, more mapped details for a social worker, & Mami's bait-fish words
Strung on a line from here to Bayamón.
Now a new tide rises,
Words on a paper—a tablet, an appointment,
Your own phonemes hushed
Or it's a pen signing islands of blood on an inscrutable latitude.
A tired bag sighs over your tired shoulder, fresh records
Wrinkled beside your ESL book;
You hail the shuttle under a blinked-back morning,
Wondering why they never diagnose
This country your disease.
A resident of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Christopher R. Vaughan has been involved in poetry in one way or another for almost ten years. He is a frequent performer at the Boston Poetry Slam at the Cantab Lounge, including performing as part of the Death by Self-Inflicted Wound team in last October's Dead Poets Slam at the Cantab. He has participated in the Brighton Word Factory writing group and performed at Out of the Blue Art Gallery in Cambridge. Before moving to Boston in 2007, he was a regular on the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, open-mic poetry scene, where he featured at the Linneman's Riverwest Inn Poets Monday and performed in the 2007 Woodland Pattern Book Center Poetry Marathon. An ardent supporter of advancing the work of other poets through recitation, Christopher became interested in poetry through his public performance of Spanish-language poetry while living in Chile. He has recited the work of Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, Ilya Kaminsky, Yusef Komunyakaa, Robert Pinsky, among others. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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