A homely baby in a school ruled by pretty

young ladies, you wear your lonely puppyfat

to the pool, swimming slow under your Speedo,


nearly twelve, invisible unless it’s your turn to be

teased.  Every girl turns, sighs: it’s handsome Jamey

... he looks right at you, waves and calls your name!


You swim to the edge, smitten.  He smiles whitely,

nothing like a shark and says, “I’ve got something

to show you; wanna come?”  You can’t wait to see!


You flounder onto concrete and follow behind,

flimsy suit dripping, young soul skipping

with joy that the boy wants to be your friend.


Down the hall in the abandoned handball courts,

it’s just yellow flickery lights and gritty sock dust.

The lamps snap out; the slam of the switch echoes,


shocking as your father’s shout. Confusion curdling

to terror in the dark, all you can sense is the stink

of stinging chlorine and sweat. Jamey’s laughing


and something sticky, something rubbery pokes

into your palm and you bolt to the crack of light

at the door, escape as his mocking calls choke


poisonous and loud as gas grenades, ashes,

ashes you want to fall down, blow away but you run

and don’t stop ’til you’re home to wash yourself raw.