Moving out and moving on (moments in a Florida boy’s life)

Raised on good southern manners,
on frozen dinners and neon lights, 
on guns in the bed of high-schooler’s trucks. I
saw death when I was 6, 12, 18. 

Videos of 9/11 in elementary school,
videos of friends in high school,  
both dead now but I miss them- 
the ones that I knew by name. 

Interesting, how you change when 
you’re in danger every weekday from 8:30 am to 3 pm,
longer if you’ve got after-school practice. </span
Interesting, how comfortable you get under a desk. 

Make sure to say, “Yes Ma’am” and “No Sir” and “I
just like pants, I swear, I’m not hiding anything.” It’s
important to be a good southern girl even if  
you don’t dress like-act like-aren’t one. 

Chicken parmesan is made with frozen chicken,  
marinara sauce, and cheese sprinkled over it. 
Throw it in the oven for 15 minutes and sleep off work.
My mom taught me that one when we lived alone. 

My mom also taught me that being different ain’t bad,  
it just might get you beat up at school and 
she just might yell about it some Sunday afternoons.  
The ones where she wasn’t working at the church. 

The state everyone can point out on a map and 
on the news, headliners a joke and schools even more so.
No one told me we were supposed to have a health class,
supposed to have geography, supposed to have 

teachers, desks, supplies, space, food, education. 
But we had manners and a Thriftmart down the block,
and free spaghetti at the church on Wednesdays. 
And in the end, it wasn’t all that bad. 

Maybe I’ll miss the neighbors and the lights and
Miss Shirley at the library who snuck me cookies.
Maybe I’ll miss chicken parmesan. 
We’ll see.