Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Bench Warmer

i wanted to be the last kid picked
for the basketball team,
sitting in sidelines while no one talks to me–
i got used to being shy,
uncoordinated, terrified
when the ball was passed to me,
double dribbling when i could’ve laid it up,
never imagining that one day,
i might dunk.

but now i have a chance to be point guard.
how can i let my guard down?
if i fail, i will let my heart down.
not trying was so much easier because
it was a slow way of dying
rather than the sudden death that comes from
late night crying and questioning why in
the world
i bothered in the first place.
but if i don’t take risks,
i’ll forever be stuck in this place,
and it’s a disgrace
to count myself out of the game
at this young of an age.

so the next time i get picked,
i’ll play.


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