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By Michael S. Harper

He waltzes into the lane

’cross the free-throw line,

fakes a drive, pivots,

floats from the asphalt turf

in an arc of black light,

and sinks two into the chains.


One on one he fakes

down the main, passes

into the free lane

and hits the chains.


A sniff in the fallen air—

he stuffs it through the chains

riding high:

“traveling” someone calls—

and he laughs, stepping

to a silent beat, gliding

as he sinks two into the chains.


Michael S. Harper, “Makin’ Jump Shots” from Images of Kin. Copyright © 1977 by Michael S. Harper. Used by permission of the poet and University of Illinois Press.

Source: Images of Kin (University of Illinois Press, 1977)

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Poet Bio

Michael S. Harper
Deeply influenced by the blues and jazz, Michael S. Harper draws attention in his work to the many injustices suffered by African Americans over the course of this country’s history. Then, like the musicians he so admires, out of this painful and even tragic legacy, he makes song. See More By This Poet

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