In myriad ways, now and since,
I’m less a formidable force than then,
When I was Icarus on a banana-seat Schwinn,
A Double Dragon defeater on fifty cents,
A baleful Blackfoot in dun buckskin,
Or a Ranger with hardened steel in his chin.
Deep thoughts were enumerated tootsie pop licks
Or scissor-splitting spit-clogged pixie sticks;
Didn’t take it too hard on a Sadie Hawkins miss—
Holding hands was adventurous, never mind a kiss;
And wouldn’t make too much of the little pinpricks
A bully might brandish against a simple bliss.
Miss Welch taught me cursive for counted naught;
Miss Bryant once jacked me to my toes by an ear
(I feigned half-deaf-to-left for the rest of that year);
Principal Eubanks had the handle on a hardwood swat
And kept my mother’s work-number too damn near—
My heart pocketed it all as a sandbox souvenir.
There seemed less to lose and more to ponder,
In a Members Only jacket impossible to launder
And pants of patched and pearl-snapped corduroy;
If there be any brilliance in me, or purest joy,
Any brightness beyond my most selfish squander,
Let it be the beam of that brave and unbroken boy.