Monday, December 31, 2012

Kimberlee Smith


This is not the moral decay
of The Waste Land by Eliot
or the rotten fuck off
of "Teenage Wasteland" by Townshend.
This is not poetic. Virtuosic. Cathartic.
It is the nightmare that follows
life to death in a town
where hope certifiably
expired on August 1, 1982.
So go on in, knowing
you are on the edge.
You will not make it home.
This is the end of fun and games.

Copper stars splattered across his cheeks
like water bombs exploding on pavement.
In thirty-year-old dreams I work to recall
How the event unfolded at all.
How do I remember his face so clearly?
As if I were standing
over his casket, still.
I was sixteen, he was seventeen.
This is no Taylor Swift love song.
These are the last warnings,
Never wander off in the dark.
Never hunt down some weed.
Never follow a hustler’s lead.

His eyes were the color
of peppermint schnapps.
His pitch of fiery hair
combed smooth for Picture Day,
bangs slashed straight across
his unmapped forehead.
A procession of our somber youth—
stoned and stunned and
broken beyond repair—viewed
the boy carved of putty.
The mortician painted him
stuffed him, presented him
to us, the semi-living.

We traded dime bags for hallucinogenic
stamps for travel anywhere
to escape that fucking town.
Swaggered down railroad tracks
behind the candy factory
smelling of fuel and SweeTarts
one flat summer night, heat
strangling, soiling, rutting, joyous.
Searching for something, whatever , wherever.
Slicing in and out of thin air,
driving—headed to Vailsburg
Give us freedom, or give us death.
Given? Both.

Kim reads "The End of Fun and Games":

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Kim confesses: "I wrote 'The End of Fun and Games' about a high school friend who was murdered. It was the first, but not the last, experience I had of a friend dying violently while I was young. My hometown became a place of dead ends and lost hope, shrouded in danger."

KIMBERLEE SMITH is a poet, essayist, and fiction writer who lives with her children and menagerie on their farm in rural Connecticut. She received her B.A. in print journalism at the University of Southern California and her M.A. at the University of Sydney in Australia, where she lived for four years. Her work has been published in multiple literary journals and magazines. She makes a mean hard cider from the apples in her orchard and spends an inordinate amount of time trying to befriend Junior, the only rooster in her flock of chickens.

1 comment:

Kathleen A. Ryan said...

I'm sorry for the tragic loss of your friend at such a tender age, so long ago; how sad that you experienced multiple losses during your youth. Such a profound grief never leaves the soul of "the semi-living," evident in dreams long after. A very moving piece.