some people are just mean

by Gabriel Ricard

It takes her several moments longer
to find a coat from the hallway closet
than it would for any sensible person.

It’s cold, he reasons.
Get one of those big bastards
and pretend to be a stranger at the pulse
of a great party on both sides of a red light motorcade.

Someone who still knows it’s possible
to be recognized anywhere at all.

He thinks she’d like that.
Then he thinks she’d like it if he came
from behind to put his arms around her waist
and make his way through that long hair
to the back of her neck.

What stops him is remembering
that more and more she’s been responding
to surprises with small acts of violence
and large-scale bids for complete hysteria.

Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s all those
old houses and streets suddenly reappearing
on Wilkshire Ct. and Benchley St. More than ten years
after the midnight movie brigade took them down.

Nothing more than a bunch of torches and famously sharp,
well-maintained fingernails and teeth. He was there. They both
watched the whole terrible night stand in wretched, wavering,
drooling defiance of what the morning tried to quietly usher in later.

She lost everything. He lost just enough, and that was the last time
they ever talked about getting married or living somewhere exotic.
Like Chicago. Ten years of break-ups, ballads written in the nonsense
language they used with childhood passwords, warm strangers, sadistic strangers
and victory parties for people who have managed to keep their senior year weight.

It’s a lot. These days it’s impossible to get through
the afternoon without a three-hour nap in the living room.

She picks a coat that was given to her
by a fella from the last time she tried to leave him behind. He doesn’t say
a word about it. Like a gentleman at 11:45 PM he holds the door open
for her, and they start walking.

There’s actually a store just up the street,
but they opt for the one that’s almost an hour away.

Any amount of time away from the estate
is good time. He almost brings up the spotlight
that runs along most of the neighborhoods
from in the clouds no one has been able to find.

He almost points out the laughter
that can move from the bushes to the tops
of the trees in just seconds on the lower spine
of the long year. He even wants to find one of her uneasy hands
and tell her
that in just thirty seconds time, he can have a car freshly stolen
and ready for the warmest weather in the Pacific Northwest.

Instead he plays kick the can
until she glares at him to stop.

There’s a surprising amount of country road
barbwire in the city streets, but most of it is buried
under snow that’s overstayed it’s welcome.


Posted on 12/01/2010
Copyright © 2022 Gabriel Ricard

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by George Hoerner on 12/01/10 at 09:28 PM

Another great story Gabe. And just so you know how important barbwire is, there is a museum to it in one of those towns in Idaho that no one can find because it has only three houses and seven mobile ‘meth’ labs that are always busy supplying those from out of state people.

Posted by Jim Benz on 12/01/10 at 09:45 PM

"Instead he plays kick the can / until she glares at him to stop." How perfect is that? Good stuff as always.

Posted by Meghan Helmich on 08/30/11 at 09:38 AM

Which came first, the poem or the story?

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