Clumsy writing mars this otherwise breathless, evocative tribute to top-speed playground b-ball. Johnson demonstrates his brilliant technical versatility, switching from the photo-realistic stills of Alphabet City (1995) to dramatically swirling scenes, done with pastels, of older teens seen through burning orange light against sketchy backgrounds, gracefully leaping, twisting, or crouching in watchful anticipation as the ball circles the stringless hoop. The visual excitement outstrips the accompanying poem; Burleigh (Flight, 1991, etc.), when not employing Nike-style ad copy (""Hoops./The gamed./Feel it,"") descends into confusing abstractions and poorly chosen imagery--""The ball/The way it answers whenever you call./The never-stop back and forth flow, like tides going in, going out."" The attempt to capture the game in words is certainly in earnest; the outstanding art merits better.