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By Jacob Saenz

As a boy I bicycled the block

w/a brown mop top falling

into a tail bleached blond,


gold-like under golden light,

like colors of Noble Knights

’banging on corners, unconcerned


w/the colors I bore—a shorty

too small to war with, too brown

to be down for the block.


White Knights became brown

Kings still showing black & gold

on corners now crowned,


the block a branch branded

w/la corona graffitied on

garage doors by the pawns.


As a teen, I could’ve beamed

the crown, walked in w/out

the beat down custom,


warred w/my cousin

who claimed Two-Six,

the set on the next block


decked in black & beige.

But I preferred games to gangs,

books to crooks wearing hats


crooked to the left or right

fighting for a plot, a block

to spot & mark w/blood


of boys who knew no better

way to grow up than throw up

the crown & be down for whatever.


Source: Poetry (September 2010)

  • Social Commentaries

Poet Bio

Jacob Saenz
Poet and editor Jacob Saenz was born in Chicago and raised in Cicero, Illinois. He earned a BA in creative writing from Columbia College in Chicago. His first collection of poetry, Throwing the Crown (Copper Canyon Press, 2018), was awarded the 2018 American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize. Saenz has been an editor at Columbia Poetry Review and an associate editor at RHINO. He works as an acquisitions assistant at the Columbia College library and has read his poetry at a number of Chicago venues. A CantoMundo fellow, he has also been the recipient of a Letras Latinas Residency Fellowship and a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship.

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