WORD LISTS

"Garvey's Choice" by Nikki Grimes

September 13, 2019
Garvey loves reading and astronomy, but his father pressures him to be an athlete. Then Garvey is chosen as a soloist in the school choir — and music might provide a way for him and his father to connect.
origami
Mom’s got a talent
for origami, but she
can’t fold me into
the jock Dad wants me to be.
throttle
For now, I strap on
chapter four of Mars Rescue,
study the console,
then ease back on the throttle
for a smooth flight through star fields.
antidote
Antidote

Dinner-table talk
is magically washed away
on a sea of song
the minute I clamp on my
trusty earphones and push PLAY.
spatter
She spatters me with laughter.
supernova
With window cracked wide,
we telescope the night sky
trailing Orion,
dreaming of supernovas,
mapping the stars for hours.
snag
All evening long, I
try tucking in my sadness,
but it keeps getting
snagged on my voice when I speak.
seep
The words seep into me, then
leave my cheeks wet and salty.
conspiracy
She winks at me—sign
of our conspiracy. Score!
pawn
Mom gets her chess set,
teaches me about
bishops, knights, pawns, then
says, “Football is fine, but this
is exercise for your brain!”
cobbler
An extra helping
of Mom’s famous peach cobbler
earns me a death glare
from guess who?
serpentine
Bring it on! More days with Joe
and fewer with Dad
who’s still mad I didn’t spend break
practicing serpentine runs.
checkmate
Checkmate

Turns out, Mom was right.
My brain’s beginning to bulge
with brand new muscles.
foil
Foiled

I need a new plan.
Some dumb kid named Todd
tried to be hilarious.
stealthy
Stealthy Dresser

After a quick lunch,
I hit the boy’s locker room
five minutes early
contemplate
I near cracked a sweat
just contemplating the run.
stagger
I stagger upstairs,
flip on something with a groove,
and sing my way into math.
octave
My voice skips octaves
like a smooth stone on a lake.
tenor
“Well, class,” says the director.
“Guess we found our new tenor.”
pact
Pact

I float up our stairs,
breeze into Angela’s room,
forgetting to knock.
croissant
Out comes a croissant
crammed with guacamole and
two kinds of cheeses
that are not American.
guacamole
Out comes a croissant
crammed with guacamole and
two kinds of cheeses
that are not American.
gawk
Manny sees me gawking.
wither
Angela withers.
“I’m sorry, Garvey,” she says.
scrumptious
Sharing Manny’s scrumptious lunch
means more money for music!
jalapeno
Grilled portobello
with roasted peppers, onions,
sliced jalapeños,
topped with melted Havarti
makes my taste buds want to dance.
croon
I can’t wait to sing the song,
croon my own untold story.
recital
Our first recital!
Dad proudly takes me shopping
for a brand new suit.
grit
My waist a stranger
I haven’t seen in ages,
I grit my teeth, speak
the truth: My body’s chunky.
Who cares?
cringe
During the applause,
I search for him in the crowd,
catch him with head bowed,
cringe, certain I’ve failed again
till I see Dad wipe his eyes.
aftermath
Aftermath

Sis bounces up, flings
an arm across my shoulder,
staking out her claim.
envy
I watch his eyes turn
an envy green, a color
I have never seen him wear.
grim
Grim shadows, problems
haunt us all—round, thin, short, tall.
unison
“I’ve been hearing about you,”
both begin in unison,
then we three drown in laughter.
bass
You should hear how his
bluesy bass rhythms rock my
high-tenor melodies—sweet!
tanka
Tanka is an ancient poetry form, originally from Japan.

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