Monday, October 27, 2014

Charles Rammelkamp


At the rest area on the Ohio Turnpike
I stopped at Starbucks for a cup of coffee.
Ahead of me stood a girl in a uniform,
another teenager who worked
at one of the fast-food kiosks in the food court.

The boy waiting on customers read her nametag,
asked if she were related to Nancy Ewing.
They probably lived in the same school district.

"And I'm not related to Patrick Ewing, either,"
the girl teased, flirting.

"Who? I don’t think I know him."

"I thought you were a big basketball fan,"
the girl teased again.
"I thought you knew all the players."

"Must have been before my time,"
the boy shrugged,
struggling to find a way to impress her.

"Played for the Knicks," I butted in.
"College star at Georgetown.
My brother-in-law knew him
at Rindge High in Cambridge."

They both looked at me,
looked at each other,

"Well, at least you've got LeBron James back,"
I said, regretting my interruption,
nodding at the gaudy T-shirts
on display in the gift shop.

"I hate him," the boy muttered.
"The Middle East is falling apart
and he's all the newspapers can talk about."

I left the boy a big tip.

Charles reads "King James":

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Charles confesses: "Driving back to Baltimore from northern Michigan, where we'd spent two weeks by a lake, isolated from the constant bombardment of the news, my wife and I stopped at a rest area on the Ohio Turnpike for a cup of coffee and a restroom break. The news was full of the Ukraine dispute, Hamas and Israel at each other’s throats, Gaza up in flames, ISIS running amok in Iraq and Syria, the Guatemalan refugee crisis. But all the regional Cleveland media seemed to care about was the return of LeBron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers."

CHARLES RAMMELKAMP lives in Baltimore. His latest books are Fusen Bakudan (2012) from Time Being Books and Mixed Signals (2014) from Finishing Line Press. Charles edits an online literary journal called The Potomac.

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