I must have said the words
manifest confidence in my head
over a thousand times
while I shot baskets
in the local park.

I am not going to try
and be cool about it.
I was doing it because fear
was trying to stomp me out
and it was after dark.

And even though
there was nothing to fear,
there’s always fear
and doubt.

So I have to unlock my mind
’cause so much is
screaming to get out
that I haven’t written down.
Dropped water out of a bucket,
a wandering cloud of doubt,
precipitating rain clouds,
I had to leave the court.

But I manifested a swish,
and I did it.
But not after hundreds
of misses, and this one
doesn’t seem right.

That one clanged the rim.
I can shoot another one
in its place.

That one banked it.
Got to go running
close to the others playing.
Retreat back, focus on my breath
and breathe, poet, breathe.

I do, I try to.
My mind is a game all tied up
or down by two.
I got the ball,
I am chasing memories.

The kids yell Winna
and other names,
you know what they all mean.
They want me to miss it.
I take a deep breath,
I do something different.
I shoot the shot,
it goes swish.
And if it is written,
then this is it.
Took a long time,
but I am a champion.

‘Cause I can manifest,
desire or doubt,
I choose to keep it
all tight to my chest
and say I will go
without hate or fear
and bring in something near me.

A microphone, a crowd
and guest appearances.
No more talk of illnesses
or disorders. That’s grief
disguised as brilliance.

A wicked wisdom
brewing in my cauldron.
Shake the system
and bring the writtens
to the coliseum.
Shake the pillars, climb them.
Say I got tales to tell,
unwind them like dollars
and daffodils in the wells.

Gypsy told me I was nothing
but a bad dream.
I am not though.
I am great though.
I keep my mind calm
in a storm, and the undertow
wants to take me
and grab me by my toe,
and not let go.

It will take me far,
but I will surf the stars
and escape this doubt.
I finally got my mind to stop
saying the words,
Manifest swish.
Manifest confidence.

You should have heard
what I used to tell myself.
You ain’t shit.
You’re different.
You’re not like them.
You don’t belong.

Breathe, poet,
close your eyes,
shoot the shot.

It’s all gone wrong,
I run again.
The same old song
plays in my head.

You don’t belong here.
They hate you.
They are going to find you
and rape you.
You don’t deserve existence.

Breathe, close your eyes,
manifest confidence.
I can’t do it.
I try to, I close my eyes,

I run after the ball again.
I got this.
Look, who it is,
imagine Ben.

Step up to the three point line.
He’s guarding you tight this time.
You cross, cross again, 3, 2, 1.
Down by one. Jump, The hand goes up.
His goes up. Come, on poet, man,
manifest confidence, rise up.

I take over with one second,
remaining, down by one
The Hand just goes past mine,
I get the shot off. 3, 2, 1…
Clang! Round the rim, again
and again, the ball drops in.
Manifest Confidence.
Winna finally wins.


Jason Wright is the editor and founder of Oddball Magazine. His column appears weekly. His third book, Train of Thought 2: Almost Home will be available soon.