Still Life with Skateboarding Rapper Orbited by Nerd Paraphernalia
Cortney Lamar Charleston
The Internet is an alternate ghetto: around the way girls hiking 
skirt or cutting their shorts above the cheeks and the blush of 
	virgins, a gang of brothers pushing bootlegged music and movies 
	in a barbershop full of avatars, trying to keep their given names 

out of the mouth of piracy laws. And I actually fit into this hood 
for once, as if my arms were dictionaries, my fitting jeans held up 
	by a barbed wire belt; FBI done warned about my coming back 
	in the Sixties: the black male intellect, wearing newly-prescript 

glasses, my haircut manicured low like so many suburban lawns 
surrounding me, grade point average likely on point, and it was, 
	because in my high school, I played the first guard against every 
	stereotype adding negative numbers to our credit in the eyes of

administration, and even then, my jump shot was still wet like 
the back of her lip, her referring to whoever the homie was 
	gaming at the time. But my brow stayed furled, because I didn't 
	play games. I had goals on my mind at all times, and my teachers 

recognized that because my fire, like Chicago's, of either hooves 
or guns, was real, and they were real, the ones who recognized,
	pulled me to the side after class, asked if I would be a mentor, 
	be a tutor to some of the younger kids in the school who, like 

me, were trying to escape the shadow of American history to 
varying degrees of success, from second-degree to first-degree 
	to felonies and misdemeanors. And here I am, shadow with bone, 
	trying to get my first degree, then go to college and get a second, 

adding to my kill count like a kind of domestic terrorist. And this 
became my motivation for taking that plea to heart: trying to 
	help get more black bodies into black gowns and mortarboards. 
	And before I knew it, them same kinfolks tagged the name Lupe 

on me: a co-sign, a big-up, a verbal dap. The first time anybody 
ever mistook me for a rapper, an early legend of the Internet, 
	where all the knowledge in the world lives, making me to them: 
	Google in a Coogi hoodie, or a file-share, or just respectable.
Cortney Lamar Charleston was raised in the Chicago suburbs by two South Siders, but currently lives in Jersey City, NJ. He is an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania and its premier performance poetry collective, The Excelano Project. He is also a founder and editorial lead for BLACK PANTONE, an inclusive digital cataloging of black identity. His poetry has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Lunch Ticket, Specter Magazine, Kinfolks Quarterly, Bird's Thumb, and Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, among others. 


more by Cortney Lamar Charleston:
Still Life with Light-Skinned Rapper Wearing Newsboy Cap
Windy City