poor sidekick falls hard

by Gabriel Ricard

She tried to make it as a comedienne,
but it wasn’t until she learned to juggle,
swallow swords, tap-dance with those annoying shoes
on fire and clap her hands to the rhythm of classical music
that someone finally pulled her aside
and said that enough was enough.

At twenty-three
her parents just wanted to get her out of California,
before it slid into the ocean
and became a legendary graveyard of debt and artistic porn.

At twenty three
she had wasted seven years of college.

They gave her five grand to move to Florida,
get a grip, vote once in a while and maybe even
find a man who didn’t mind the bags under her eyes.

Before that
they took away her Tarot cards, treated her to a week
of the kind of electroshock-therapy that almost killed her great-aunt
and sold off the childhood belongings she wouldn’t throw away.

But it wasn’t all bad.
The car they loaned her was a gorgeous,
ancient piece of riff-raff from the days when a good vehicle
didn’t break down so much as it knew to stop
when there was nowhere left to go.

Those last couple of months in California
took a hell of a toll on her. She screamed the first half
of the trip until her voice changed for good. She spent the other half
singing the songs
she wanted to hear, even with the radio
trying to shout over her with shrewd hits from 2009.

She didn’t know what she was going to do when she got to Florida.

she never had to.

A man in old clothes that looked new
approached her at a Waffle House in the wasteland portion
of the deep south. A college kid desperate to leap from one fantastic story
to a thousand after traveling across the country by Greyhound
described the conversation between her and the gentleman
as being very quiet, very intense and very brief.

They left together,
and the car was abandoned in the parking lot.

He was driving something that looked better
and probably went further.

Her parents didn’t realize she was missing
until they called her great-uncle six months later.

The college kid feels she might now be living
under a series of assumed names
and implied ghost-towns-between-the-lines,
but no one really cares what he thinks.

His opinion
isn’t going to get him anywhere.


Posted on 07/23/2011
Copyright © 2022 Gabriel Ricard

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by E. A. Pugh on 07/23/11 at 03:23 AM

more More MORE!

Posted by Alli Martel on 07/23/11 at 02:06 PM

I adore the ending lines: "His opinion / isn’t going to get him anywhere" - perfection.

Posted by Samiah Haque on 07/23/11 at 11:57 PM

this is so intriguing. i love the narrative quality of your poems, like short stories--tight and intense. i can't imagine where she is now, with the man with oldnew clothes. wonderful way to turn your readers into the college kid in the end.

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