“Lesson” by Phillipe Vicente

The bruising was not unlike the fist
emerging through the clenched faces,
the red of freshly skinned knees,
their hot bones white as blank pages.

A punch and I dreamed of water
and rose patches.  Friends, to whom
I’m merely a target and a laugh,
kicked me back to life.

Their taunts broke me where I dreamed.
It was neither school nor prison.
I leaned fully into each blow
like a sail into a storm.

After the beating I listened around
and grabbed at the sounds,
a fence of mocks and backs,
the girl I fought over gone and bought.

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