Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kevin Ridgeway- Three Poems

Dispatches from the Meat Locker

I used to cut the meat
at the town co-op
slicing the prosciutto
and dicing the preservative-free
locally grown ham
I didn’t know what prosciutto was
and I didn’t know the difference
between my hams
cutting away at
roast beef arteries and
smoking Newport’s in the alleyway
coughing up blood and sweat and vomit--

I was a vegetarian.

Sloppy nauseous
luncheon surgeon that I was,
I dazzled with my
product presentation that they
taught during orientation,
holding my hand up
in the air with of a hunk of cow
but faltered when told
they wanted thin sheaths
and not the bulging slab
rudely breathing in
my outstretched palm.

I don’t know why I stayed
on for two weeks,
or why I didn’t deck the
old, balding pony tail New Age stallion
who admonished me for
not changing my rubber gloves
as I stood there
with bacon
covering my arms
and shoulder blades
like wartime cold cut medals

Roughhouse Mind

within the depths
of my weary skull
ferries boats
of ill repute
steam along
rivers of blood
coursing through my brain
where artificial horses
round the bends of
dwarf track races
surrounded by
wooden shanty walls
adorned with
winking dollar ale signs
beer batter slowly
boiling off from
last night

women with long silk
stockings and salty mouths
keep rooms at
the front of my mind
sailors bite beer bottle
caps off of with their teeth and
spit them on the floor
amidst the stale peanut shells
drifting toward the back
of my mind and
down my spine
into no man’s land

these snub nosed
cracker jack box
cartoon crooks,
sloppy hot belly gamblers,
and beautifully ugly prostitutes
fight over the
winning horse’s ticket
slowly burn my mind down

and put it out of business

America the Weird

The older, weirder America is
what sends my seceding mind
into the clouds
above a continent
that holds
a mammoth anthology
of wisdom’s misadventure
my head scratched into chipped
dandruff queries regarding the mystique
of the music in its bayous, its rivers
its trains, its highways, its mountains,
its deserts, its decorations, its corner
liquor store politicians, its hustle
bustle in funk urban mazes, its rallying
cries of freedom from every direction.

When I can smell America,
when I can taste it coming
off a Greyhound regardless
of north-south east-west
those are the times when
the art that lurks behind
its wide curtains surges
through the veins leading
to my third-generation
mutt immigrant heart
and a flow of joy and 
rivers of rage and grief
join together in unity--
these are the times
when I’ve had my eternal
passport stamped
and I’m an American

Bio:  Kevin Ridgeway is a writer from Southern California, where he currently lives in a shady bungalow with his girlfriend and their one-eyed cat.  Recent work can be found in The Camel Saloon, Underground Voices, Dark Chaos and The Legendary. 

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