A Lil Overdressed

by Ken Harnisch

See, here’s what I hate about the interstates:
They’re broad, flat and featureless;
They lack the hairpin turns and switchbacks
That used to make it so much fun to ride
In Daddy’s old ’50 Stake Bed Dodge
The one that rattled every time he
Put it in second gear.

Okay, maybe you don’t;
You were always the brooding cerebral
One in the family anyway. The one who pulled
The wings off butterflies to see how they flew.
And if I may digress: such micro-parsing
Made you a bad dancer, too
Someone who followed the steps pattern
At the Fred Astaire studio and never really
Got it, it was the music that was supposed
To get your body moving, not the stick figures
On the posters above the door.

A brilliant student, I heard Mama tell Daddy
One night after she came home from Open School week
Okay, a bit erratic. Non-conventional, too.
Which was alright in the ‘60’s, when the world was falling apart
And we were all in search of the next Willy Wonka.
You were born too late, in my opinion.
The world had settled down by the time
The Great Pumpkin took your gyroscope offline

I mean, we were all dancing to disco
And you were still singing along with the Carpenters

I used to see your silhouette out on the porch at night
Lurching backwards in horror every time a boy tried to kiss you;
Pretending your treasure was the only one in the whole wide world
No one was going to unbury without a golden shovel.
And then the porch swing was empty, and the nights
Got longer, and you had this puzzled look in your eyes.
Always asking me: is it something I said?

I always thought it was something you didn’t, actually.

I believed, I still do, there was a disconnect
Between that 50-gigabit brain of yours
And those analog social skills, the ones
That never quite got Facebook.
Or even the simple act of shaking hands.

Doesn’t surprise me you were seen on
Eye-35 picking up Dasani bottles,
Or that you made a small fortune
Returning empties to the Stop-n-Shop.
We all have a talent, they say;
Yours was making a killing
In recyclables

So you have a lot of money and
Some hip walking boots and
You keep an apartment in St. Paul
Which doesn’t look like something
Mama saw on “Extreme Hoarders.”
That’s progress, I guess, although
The ‘rents still tell me you have a thing
Or two to learn about basic etiquette.

For instance, Mama says you borrowed
Her white fur jacket and never gave it back

A lil overdressed for picking up plastic
In the roadside weeds, don’t you think?


Author's Note: Belatedly, I came across Ava Blu's May contest thread and though I was too late to enter (congratulations Scott Utley)I was so taken by the photograph accompanying it, I wanted to try my hand. Hope you like it.

Posted on 06/30/2011
Copyright © 2024 Ken Harnisch

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Gabriel Ricard on 06/30/11 at 08:47 PM

I dig the hell out of it, man, and I'm sorry you didn't jump on that thing in time. You coulda been a contender.

Posted by Kristine Briese on 06/30/11 at 11:40 PM

Oh, it's wonderful! Gabe's right; it would have been a helluva contender!

Posted by Carolyn Coville on 08/14/11 at 07:13 AM

So good, yet so sad. So real. Definitely, so Ken :)

Posted by Kerowyn Rose on 08/04/12 at 02:49 PM

I love the frankness, detail and depth of this. Great write!

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