I submitted this last year for a young man (his homeys called him “Christmas”) I had the pleasure of knowing him for only a brief moment of his short 16-year old life. He was too young to die and it’s too soon to forget Chris’s smile.
His homeys called him Christmas
for the gifts he scored and poured
out of his bag of tricks –
for the rock candy and snowballs
he stuffed into stockings with a
twinkle in his eyes and a smile
to light up the skies of Duarte.
No more dope. He toyed with the idea
of hope, rubbing its sweetness
across his gums, over his tongue.
Whether they were naughty or nice;
black or brown, his homeys might
like the taste of something that wouldn’t
cost a lung, a tattooed arm or a leg.
He dared to believe in change
even though he didn’t trust
he’d see 18. Not much older
than Jesus who entered the Temple
to chase away the money changers –
those defilers of his hood, 16-year old
Christmas was already marked.
I like to think he turned his back –
headed home before five shots rang out
ripping metal through flesh – shattered bone –
pierced heart. Christmas is over.
Gifts of flowers, candles and Teddy bears
line the sidewalk; the milk curdles,
and the cookies crumble to dust.
Officials Investigate Murder Of Teen Boy, 3rd Shooting In Duarte In 3 Days