1, 2, 3, and 4

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I get off the J train

Pocket buzzing

Mom tells me to get home

Safely so I untuck 

My shirt pull it 

Over my hips 

I reach the corner

Traffic light changes

And the race 

To get home 

Unscathed 

Begins

My body tenses 

With every body I pass

With every leer from the men 

Who sit in front of barber shops

Restaurants bodegas

Who blast reggaeton 

Through off-brand speakers  

And laugh with beer bottles in hand 

I wish I loved that laugh

Eyes dizzy 

1, 2, 3, and 4

with the colors of concrete

5, 6, 7, and 8

I remind myself 

Of the rules

Always keep your head down 

But always look behind you

Walk so fast your hips won’t have time to sway

But don’t walk so fast that you gain attention

Walk so fast they can’t see your mascara 

But slow enough that they can see you scowl 

Behind me I hear the J train 

And I wish I could get back on

Transfer to the L

Get off at Bedford 

And walk those gentrified streets 

Where there aren’t enough shadows

For men to lurk

And grab me by the shirt 

tucked into my jeans 

But no. 

Feet unrelenting

I turn onto my street

I count 

1, 2, 3, and 4

5, 6, 7, and 8

And finally

I make it to my block 

Where all the houses 

That are not houses

Tall, pressed together

Leave 

No room to hide

From men who watch my curly hair

Bounce with every step I take

And wonder what else about me bounces 

I have mastered the art of

Turning my head

Without turning my head

But I see you 

I know you’re watching me

But you’re too late

I reach my front steps

Fit the key in the lock

Step inside my home 

Win the race

And deadbolt the door

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