American Dream

These boys are matches, struck
with swagger. They roam streets like kings,
bob up and down sidewalks as if their bare feet
hold the sea. Charm girls with mango tongues:
burning thin wood. They thought bullets
could not stop them. Boys of fire don’t know
what to do when a man with watery eyes pulls you over,
says the rust on your car is wrong, tells you to say sorry.
Boys of fire don’t know how to douse. They can only flare—devastate,

though their mothers didn’t want to believe what would happen.
Because their boys like red shaved ice, boast raspberry knees
like badges. They’re good boys, they cry, holding cheeks
swaddled in damage. As they thumb piss-tinted teeth,
clutch the passed-down bandanas that choke their
baby’s throats. Listen. Somewhere, a mother
cradles the face of her burnt, American boy.
She kisses his forehead goodnight
one last time.