Whipper Snapper – Mickie Kennedy
No evening like the last,
spent drinking, searching bars
for future step-sisters or whatever
the proverbial cat’s drags in or out:
the part of the form where you circle
a range of years,
or a raft’s chance of a flood—
when the meter on the side of the house
and the one inside the car
start comparing notes.
I have slipped the cork from better vintages
and worse friends,
but the squelch of juniper takes me
right back to here,
a shoving motion behind a line in the sand.
Calypso on the phonograph,
a street lamp of incandescent on an LED budget.
The wet tug of an early splash,
the high-water mark of a spotted cow,
the sense enough to keep girls’ heads
out of rivers and pink barrettes.
Savannah rings her bell for the blacks
who served her and those that still do.
A tourist is a formula of 2.8 nights and
six meals in area restaurants.
Too cold now to justify a tour but the van idles
its way along one-way streets,
to houses as big as Grandmother’s eyes
you have in a locket.
Christmas wreaths on windows and doors,
a horse nods and continues on a side street.
Everything is hot chocolate and mini marshmallows
in the cup life chose for you.
Better to cast a line of plausible deniability
than get caught in the cheek by the triple-hook
center weight of a Georgian afternoon,
or so says the evergreen in the lobby two floors below.
The birthmark along my thigh
is the exact shape of Guatemala,
but that serves me in no way here,
other than to create a backstory.
My parents were missionaries,
and my best friend was a toucan named Jacob
who hung with a pretty colorful crowd,
a tangle of rope across the river;
they paid me each week in silver.
If it was good enough for Judas.
A woman on the corner sells roses,
a suggestion of heat in the shimmer of her hips.
A boy misspells his childhood in chalk on a plaster wall.
I have never feared anyone as much as I feared
my own mother, something for the scrapbook and glitter.
Even as an adult the child fogs up the bus window
and writes his name by fingertip.
The palm trees don’t really like the cold,
but so far they haven’t lifted their skirts
and moseyed on.
Rather, it’s the one-two punch of possibility
where the opossum of oppression resides,
taking turns as today’s catch on the side of the road.
A bucket of happenstance,
and they only use peanut oil in the back.
The misplaced checkbook sends postcards
to the signature on file,
Wish You Were Here, Greetings from Down South.
What’s a ship at dock to do but unload herself
in hastily assembled forklifts?
The prophecy of return and you sit in the cold imagining
a summer of anger on low simmer.
The taste is old as leather and twice the sting.
Mickie Kennedy is an American poet who resides in Baltimore County, Maryland with his wife, husband, son, daughter, and two feuding cats. He enjoys British science fiction and the idea of long hikes in nature. He earned an MFA from George Mason University.