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What I Was Owed

I, for one, wanted his arm gone.

Dimas wanted to test run some tacky mustard yellow paper cutter left unsupervised outside our classroom. He was just like that, drawing pentagrams and warning us that if we dared him to drive his face into the brick wall, he’d do it for no less than five bucks.

The law he made me follow tracing dotted lines around his forearm as if preparing for the gruesome ritual.

Something about the suggestion of pain blah blah blah.

I’ll save you time, he never actually did it.

You guys would just scream about the blood.

I mean I would, but that’s my writing arm.

I could see the tear glaze his eye every time.

In hindsight, he fantasized his mother’s reaction to his dismembered body. Like she’d finally have to deal with him, his belligerent boyhood.

I wanted Dimas to pull the lever.

It wasn’t just him who hadn’t lived up to their word. Me, in my crease-free button-up and vest, had the attire of a true magician’s assistant.

Imagine the kind of boy I would’ve been smiling ear to ear with the evidence of my tale splattered on my uniform shirt and best pair of shoes.

Out of habit, I drew dotted lines on any forearms left unattended throughout middle school.

Who was I to judge when I could witness?

I wanted to see him become an emergency. I wanted to see his face, when the blade finally cheapened the tension of his left arm by cutting through it, if he was the type of coward I’d inevitably have to become.

Only a loser would say such a thing.


DEON ROBINSON is a second-year MFA Candidate of Poetry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His literary interests lie in the intersection of reformed masculinity, black queerness, Christianity as a cultural rite of passage in low-income communities, and mother-son relationships. He has received fellowships from the Brooklyn Poets, the DreamYard Rad(ical) Poetry Consortium, and the Hurston/Wright Foundation. He hopes his mother is proud of him.


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