Thursday, May 22, 2008

sloe gin

"sometimes a single word will jog a torrent of memories."
some things jog memories
He left my world
forged his own
one that I touched the fringes of

when I was a little boy,
he took me to work
I thought it was the big city.
a busy street
a bustling office.
I remember looking out the window, on a summer's day
when he showed me a portion of his world
away from my small town
his work.
showed me the teletype printouts
the slide rule he used.
I remember the day he brought home the slide rule.
it was an amazing device.
performed complex arithmetic calculations on a ruler
I didn't understand, but I was amazed.

he left
tears on my mothers eyes.
an end to a bad, sad marriage.
I never really new the significance of separate beds.
though, I still remember a time before,
the time I walked in on them
both asleep on their stomachs
sleeping after an afternoon fuck
I'd walked in their bedroom
and quietly turned around, realizing without knowing
that I'd intruded on something different.

our new house
we owned the house
the G.I. bill...He got the loan
and we moved from our small rented place.
the place where he slept on a roll away bed
in the alcove in the upstairs hall
and She slept downstairs on the couch.
that house, I hated to leave
didn't want to leave my girl friend Jackie
who kissed me because I got a home run
in minor league baseball game.
the 8 to 11 year old league
and her kiss was moist and fresh
exciting even to a prepubescent boy

I cried when we moved
from the downtown end of main street
to the uptown end
the downtown end
the very end
of main street
right next to the tracks

across those tracks
the white poor
and some excitement
young fantasies with girls
pretending nakedness
pretending bare tits
I grew a little that day

I stood on those tracks
(he's from across the tracks)
I found out about a boy, whose name
was King
not his nickname
I can recall that day,
we scoured the neighborhood, knocking on doors
"do you have any empty pop bottles
you want to get rid of?"
we collected a load of bottles
and returned them to the neighborhood grocer.

Stores that you don't see anymore
no foodliners in those days
no super K-Marts, Super Wal-marts
just ma and pa
we cashed in the bottles for the 2 and 5 cent deposits.
today...it's throwaway plastic
throwaway glass
back in the day
we already had recycling
5 cent deposit on quart bottles of pop

King and I
we divided the money
not much. enough for penny candy
but King surprised me
he didn't buy candy
he bought a loaf of bread
"I'm going to give it to my mom" he said
that jolted me
and I realized without words being said
my 11 year old brain
about his poverty
poorer than my family
his house across the tracks


the tracks that I moved from
moved away from midnight train whistles
away from black Chessie, who used to hold the stop sign
holding back traffic from crossing the tracks
as heavy fast freight trains passed by
rail road crossing with no gate
just Chessie Thornton directing the traffic
yes. I moved from the tracks
leaving King
and Jackie's kisses

to move uptown to our own house
no more rentals
and it was a fine house
150 years old
civil war era home, lived in by Mr. Wells himself
and He had bought it with his World War II G.I. money

I admired the fine hardwood cupboards
the old gaslight
the vintage hardwood floors
the very floors my friends and I wore off the finish
wore off by dancing shoes.
nightly dance parties, with Rick playing 45's
on his record player
that record player that he'd carry.
it was suitcase sized.
no boomboxes in those days.
Just Rick, and his record player, and his spindle of 45's
soul music
and we danced and danced
mom away at the Eagles with my step-dad
and teenagers
smoking Kools and drinking Strohs
and fucking in the garage

but this was after
after the time when He was still here
after the time I saw the tears in Her eyes
after He took his clothes out to his used car
packed his things
and left for good

she divorced him
she left him
she forced him out.
left him even before he was gone
"so, you were out with your mom's boyfriend today?"
and I didn't know what to say
didn't know how to answer
standing in his bedroom
their bedroom
with the separate beds
so long since I'd seen them naked
in their double bed
years ago

And I lived a life he never new
it was so long to me.
but only a few short years to Him
and he forged a life of his own
never bothering to reach out to his children
never ever visiting

and I sought him out
found him in that artsy crowd
the actors and play-writes
and I entered into that world
I brought my high school friends with me
into His world
of art

I remember the cast party
rubbing elbows with the local talent
the small town actors
I remember the party
I remember the sloe gin

© 2008 Marc Mccune