My Younger Self Attempts Breakdancing at the Sadie Hawkins Dance

By: Kerry James Evans

Featured art: Dryland Farming #24, Monegros County, Aragon, Spain by Edward Burtynsky

I spin like an adolescent bottle
pointing in empty directions,

the colors of the divided gym
spiraling like one of Mrs. Peters’

chemistry experiments, the blurry
girls staring, the boys huddled together

like cows in a thunderstorm.
A minute ago, I’d sensed the movement,

two Samanthas on their way to our side
with their rare request.

Would you like to . . . ?
But I wasn’t waiting. I’d have my say first.

Now, I listen for the beat to drop
and I pose, balancing

all my weight on my left hand,
each leg a limp karate kick.

I move as a squid flees
a cameraman’s light,

arms crawling like
honeysuckle along a trellis.

If I love my body,
if any of us love our bodies,

we don’t know it yet.
What I do know?

When I loop and coil
on the checkered tile, my limbs

flex like sound waves,
as if I could speak for the air,

as if, right now, I am all
I will ever be, popping and locking

like some postmodern
dub-step magician,

which I am, in this moment,
oblivious, for once, of my blasphemous

body, spinning into a world all its own,
until, finally, the faces unblur

as before, and I see a smile from a name
I will not remember,

her hand reaching out to pick my bones
from the polished floor.


Kerry James Evans is the author of Bangalore (Copper Canyon), a Lannan Literary Selection. The recipient of a 2015 NEA Fellowship and a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship from Sewanee Writers’ Conference, his poems have appeared in Agni, New England Review, Ploughshares, and many other journals. He lives in Milledgeville, Georgia, where he teaches in the MFA program at Georgia College & State University and serves as the poetry editor for Arts & Letters.

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