Colette Clarke Torres

Recidivism is a big word.

I had to look the spelling up. I do not know what it means. I simply call it the Big Suck Back. They are conflicted.

Conflict seems to ride on the back of this particular virus like a reckless cowboy on a bull. My favorite bull is an old guy whose name is Zeeboo Boozer. The boys are afraid of him.

They are not like rocks. Their bodies twist, and grow, and change. Their brains have no tongues.

The street calls to them is if it were a song. Gotta have gotta have gotta have. Music, shirts, shoes, and new jeans with holes in them.

Skateboards that hummmm against the concrete at the skateboard park.

Always on the go, and what they rebel against is anything that contains them.

What they don’t understand is that anything that can contain them can punish them as well.

The southern boys are the exception. They understand this connection that being contained is more than simply silence — and they know it far more deeply than the others. Death is a dalliance with whatever it feeds upon. I am in no mood to fight with them.

The Big Suck wears a solemn black. They look more at the floor now and will not meet my eyes even in passing in the hall. But they know that taste of eating steel.

The clinic is their demon and their devil.

It would be very strange if they did not hate it.

I give them points for that. For standing up to it. For saying they are human, and they will spit on the floor of that evil place.

Spitting on the floor is an affront which is why they do it. The younger boys have not learned yet the power inherent to the behavior. They are more apt to simply march along to marching orders that degrade them.

The older boys are more the warrior, and apt to fight, and this saves them even as it kills them, too.

I cannot tell them that they are required to endure. They will not have it. They are not packed and hesitate before they go and there is no guarantee they will go anywhere.

But in the middle of the night, they are compelled to issue their impatience. The younger boys just hide beneath the covers on their beds. They will not listen to the older boys explain themselves, they have no tolerance for it.

The issue is abandonment whose sore task is to make them want a thousand things they cannot have.

Abandonment is always imminent with such boys. Because they have been abandoned so many times.

But most of all by a system that doesn’t work, and hates them, and they would set fire to it wherever they go.

But I know this: They haven’t left as yet. Even as they issue all their trumpets and notices that they have the power of their own two feet.

They are adolescent trapped in bodies whose fragility is an animal they deny.

In arrogance. In hubris. In spitting on the clinic floor.

I shrug. I admire them.

I have made compromise something of a womb. They have yet to do any of that, they have not lived that long, and certainly not long enough to wage war on history itself.

Their attitude of intransigence walks planet to plant like gravity cannot hold their bones. And while I know the tragedy of it, I cannot help myself, and from time to time in the middle of any conflict, I will definitely have to laugh.

Masculinity is just the churchyard’s yawn. Taming them is not my work. I have only kept them alive.Their bitterness belongs to them. They have now known affection, and it is a thing thrown at what is the wall, and what it does is stick.