a dare


Walking home from school

the boys would wag

their cigarettes

and spit dark brown arrows of chew

into the grass.

"Here, try some," they would say,

extending towards me the silvered can,

its green-black label,

their advancing eyes,

a dare.


And once I did


Just once

stopping in the road

to dare them back,

wetting my finger

to drag across the surface

bringing to my tongue 

the casual bitterness,

the tightly-fisted tendrils

pining for release.