This poem isn't finished, but I like what I've got so far! I'm kind of going for a revisionist Atalanta footrace poem, only my Atalanta is going to intentionally throw the race because she wants to kiss the boy and also feels sorry for him. Hmm...
A Footrace After School
I’ll race for you for push-pop,
Johnny called across the schoolyard,
Knowing full and well I didn’t have a quarter to
My name to pay the ice cream man if I should lose the race.
It seemed that bragging rights, that being named the fastest kid
In fifth grade wouldn’t be enough. I shrugged my shoulders, stuck
My hands into the empty pockets of my jeans, and stared
down at my scuffed up tennis shoes. Johnny was the fastest
boy; I was the fastest girl. All week, we’d trash-talked one
another, knowing it would come to this.
You know I’m broke,
I muttered underneath my breath once he was near.
He had his gang of boys beside him, as he often did.
Johnny was the kind of boy who always came to school
In pressed, bright polo shirts, his perfect curly hair slicked back
With gel, a couple dollars in his pockets. You win, I’ll buy
You ice cream for a week. I win, you have to kiss me, here,
In front of all the other boys. Now I was pretty sure
That I was fastest. Ice cream for a week would sure be sweet.
His gang of boys was oohing, cheering, grunting, watching me
For my reaction, but I kept my cool. The stakes were high,
But still I nodded, figuring that more than anything
winning would make Johnny notice me as more than just
a girl to tease. So we agreed to meet right after school,
to run across the baseball field, from backdrop to the fence.
All afternoon in class, I noticed Johnny and his friends
Whispering to one another. Johnny’s face was filled
With worry, more and more as three o’clock edged near. But me,
I was a stone. The race was in my pocket like quarter,
Shining, cold against my sweaty palm. The bell announced
the school day’s end. We lined up to go home, and Johnny slipped
behind me, tapped my shoulder, whispered in my ear,
And all the boys behind him giggled like a bunch
of little girls. We hurried to the baseball field, a crowd
of kids already gathered there, had heard the fastest kids
at Lincoln elementary school were going to race and maybe
even kiss. I took a deep breath, gazed across the yard,
imagined sailing past the finish line, imagined ice cream
on my lips, my tongue, and down my throat. I looked at Johnny,
a smile curling on his face as our eyes met. My heart
began to flutter and my knees went weak. I forced my face
into a sneer.
You’re gonna lose, you stupid, smelly boy.
The race began as everyone screamed GO! I leapt ahead
And closed my eyes, could feel the summer streaming down my nape,
and smell it in the clovers at my feet with every breath.
The crowd of boys all cheered and jeered. I knew that Johnny wasn’t
Far behind. His breath was steady, too. It felt as though
The ground beneath us shook with every stride. We were in sync
With one another, but I was ahead.
Go Johnny go!
The crowd of boys cheered.
Katie, make him eat your dust!
Were just as loud. The finish line was near...