I am Earl McKinley and I am my mother’s son. She was a beautiful black queen with no king, only a princess and a prince. Her throne was a corner of Hunts Point St. Drug dealers were at her services if she had money, but they quickly turned on her if she didn’t have their paper. She begged, stole, even sold her ass for cash. Everyone turned their head to look at the queen when she walked by; with her pretty, dirty, black, short hair, a once white dress, and her mismatch shoes. She always rocked her jewels; a plastic ring, and a bead necklace I made for her in the 3rd grade. No one bow their head in the queen’s presence, instead they call her names; they tease her, and laugh at her. But she proudly wore her crown of shame and never got offended when they called her a crack-head.

I grew up in the streets of the Bronx in N.Y, jumping from home to home. I met some good and some fuckup folks; was loved by few but hated by most. Had a lot of unanswered questions when I was young, pointed a lot of fingers, and always ended looking up, but asking God why never seemed to work. It just made me realize that I've always been alone. When I was 13 I was introduced to Angel; she transported me to a different world where everything was beautiful. There was no system, or drug between my momma and us. My sister was always by my side and we were a family; going through hard times, living one day at the time, but together as a family. But when reality kicked in, I see my momma’s once white gown dirty again and tears run down my face because my 16 yrs old sister is a runaway; and I wondered if I’d ever see her again.

I didn’t like Angel at first, but after three months couldn’t live without the dust. I didn’t really like smoking blunt, and the coke high…. didn’t last long. Angel was cool as hell, but she fucked with me and with my friend… she wasn’t a faithful chick; the one with the most money spent more time with her. But I think she noticed the kid was on his grind, always making money, dressing fly, so she wasted no time, and before I knew it I was addicted to Angel. I couldn’t live without her dust; always high on her. I really believed being sober was her punishment for those who were broke. Angel was a gold-digger; Damn that bitch took all I had; fucking with her I spent all my cash.

I couldn't afford Angel so she introduced me to her friend Crack. She was cheaper and a stronger high. Crack had me climbing on the clouds and running on the sky. She didn't bring much friends around but that was fine, all I needed was her to feel on top. I can't even tell you the things I've done to keep her by my side. I look back on the shameful things I've done and it makes me cry but Crack always ease my mind. There's no reasoning when we together, all I need is her, she is my life.

Looking in the mirror I see my mother's reflection… I am my mother’s son; I was that prince who's now is a king, I have no queen, but I reign in the Palace of the Bronx streets. My shirt is no longer white, my pants have lost its color, and my shoes have lost it shine. I haven’t shower in a while and people stare when I walk by. They don’t bow their head for the King but they give me space; when they see me coming they go the other way. I want to believe that’s a form of respect but they do it because I wear the crown of shame. I'm now a crack-head; I am my mother’s son.

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