Saturday, July 23, 2022

Fear, Bones, and Beer

Those three boys had everything
And nothing much in common,
Being all boys, new neighbors

In a scruffy neighborhood,
All white boys, separated
By sectarianism

(Proddy, Fundy, Catholic),
Age (seven, eight, eleven),
Parental set-ups (divorced,

Married, police officer
To home-maker, cabinet-
Maker to registered nurse),

And sibling situations
(Two much older, adults, four
Stair-steps up through their teens, two

Younger sisters), but none rich
Or unsheltered, none ever
Exposed to any other

Circumstance but middle-class
Northern New Jersey suburbs.
Two of the boys weren’t too bright.

One was bright but handicapped.
The youngest, Catholic boy
Was timid, a follower.

The middle, handicapped boy
Was pious but subversive,
And the oldest, the leader

From the broken family—
A brother in the Marines,
A sister half-a-hippie—

Was already corrupted
And eager to corrupt more—
One day, an expedition

To find his brother’s porn stash
In the depths of the garage—
Another day, cigarettes

Stolen from the youngest’s dad,
The great policeman, then smoked
Down by the creek while hiding

In some reeds, hoping to see
The fabled snapping turtle
Who bit off a kid’s finger.

Today, it’s early winter,
And rainy and raw and grey,
Shit weather to be outside,

So they sneak in the garage
Of an elderly neighbor,
The old Dutchman, Grigolet,

And pilfer from the cases
Of good beer he keeps stacked there,
Taking a few from the back.

They smuggle them to the fort
They’ve made of an abandoned
Outhouse in overgrown woods,

Where they’re cold, but dry at least,
And can huddle, slurp, and spit,
And brag about laws they’ll break

Someday as tough, grownup men.
It’s a mercy they can’t know
What will become of their boasts.

It’s a mercy no one can.
For now, rain drizzles on tin,
And beer soothes the fear and bones.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.