We’d collected tops, when they became a fad, nearly eclipsing yoyos.
You replaced the nylon or cheap metal tips with nails,
then fought intense wars, trying to do as much damage
to each other’s tops as possible,
ideally splitting an opponent’s with the point of your own.
We used galvanized nails, cut down to size, the thickest we could make fit.
Some of us would drill the holes to accommodate wider nails.
You had to watch your feet.
You never knew when a top might stab you during fierce competition, accidentally,
or otherwise.

When he sunk one right through my foot,
my parents rushed me in for a tetanus shot.
The doctor terrified me with vivid descriptions
of how the disease could kill me after great suffering,
and I never played top wars again.

It appeared to be a simple blood-blister.
He’d hit his thumb while pounding a nail,
let the red dot run its course, pop and heal,
like we did as kids.
By the time he was hospitalized with septicemia,
it was too late.

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