Kevin Ridgeway: “Strange Rumination”

 

 

Strange Rumination

I am going to break free from this prison
that I built from twisted blueprints,
it’s ramshackle facade collapsing over me
like a Buster Keaton near
death experience. I will no longer
befriend isolation, because isolation
feeds me too many bad ideas,
most of which I’ve kept to myself.
I will no longer stare out the window
at other kids while they all become
close, lifelong friends and I am dragged
further away than any man or woman
has gone before, through the same
black hole my mother entered
when she tried to start a riot
with the blade of her cutting words
but her self-destructive quest for justice
enslaved her and me, a lonesome spirit
who doesn’t believe in a god
to perform miracles because
that would make the world a fair
and balanced place where they would
embrace my individuality. 
But I’m still here, stigmatized 
and staring out of the same old window, 
passing notes with poems 
written on them in chicken scratch
underneath the front door 
no one knocks on any more, 
out there in a world of freedom 
where I can see everyone but me.

 

About the Author: Kevin Ridgeway is the author of Too Young to Know (Stubborn Mule Press). Recent work has appeared in Slipstream, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Main Street Rag, Cultural Weekly, Gasconade Review, The American Journal of Poetry and So it Goes:  The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, among others.  A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, he lives and writes in Long Beach, CA.

 

More By Kevin Ridgeway:

Fake Dad

500 Channels and Nothing On

Sally with the Accent

Good Timing

 

Image Credit: Clip from “Steamboat Bill Jr.” with Buster Keaton. Public Domain

Kevin Ridgeway: “Son of the Late Bloomer Bandit”

 

 

Son of the Late Bloomer Bandit

The cops raided our house
and my parents were both taken 
to jail.  I had no choice but to 
identify my father 
in surveillance videos.
I was subpoenaed 
by the district attorney.  
I sat in the echoing marble halls
of the courthouse 
across from the young bank tellers 
he terrorized, both of them girls 
my age who glared at me 
when they recognized 
his sinister face in mine. 
My testimony helped
send my father to prison 
for the rest of his life.
It’s been ten years 
and now my mother 
is dead and no longer held 
captive in the epic misery, 
of his fiendish lifelong search
for a chemical escape.
He said heroin made him 
closer and unafraid of death, 
numb to his own doom.  
They announced his 
life sentence on the front page
of the local newspaper, my 
name was never mentioned.
They did not want to believe 
he had a son who 
was more dangerous 
to them with deep wounds 
gone unhealed.  I will kidnap 
their fathers if I ever decide 
to return to claim 
what they all robbed 
from me.  I will be 
reunited with 
my father in prison, 
where we will start 
a massive riot to burn 
the walls down,  He 
and I will escape from 
the smoking rubble
back into a world 
where people tried
to throw us all away.

 

 

About the Author: Kevin Ridgeway is the author of Too Young to Know (Stubborn Mule Press). Recent work has appeared in Slipstream, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Main Street Rag, Cultural Weekly, Gasconade Review, The American Journal of Poetry and So it Goes:  The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, among others.  A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, he lives and writes in Long Beach, CA.

 

More By Kevin Ridgeway:

Fake Dad

500 Channels and Nothing On

Sally with the Accent

Good Timing

 

Image Credit: Charles Street Jail Complex, Jail, 215 Charles Street, Boston, Suffolk County, MA. The Library of Congress

Kevin Ridgeway: “Good Timing”

 

 

Good Timing

It’s too late
for inappropriate
cannabis fueled laughter
in dive bars
eyes glued to the brights,
reds, blues, greens and oranges
of Gilligan’s Island
on the flat screen
It’s too late
to argue the artistic merit
of Gilligan’s Island

It’s too late
to drink Listerine
and play shoot-em-up video games
in an unbroken trance
It’s too late
to listen to angry teenage music
and mosh against stuffed animals
in a lonesome haze

It’s too late
to borrow money from mom and pop
and blow it all on a
Collector’s Edition Star Trek play set
It’s too late to huff nitrous oxide
and encourage
a budding figurine romance
between Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock

It’s too late
to officiate feline-canine
civil unions
fueled by
White Lightning and No-Doze
It’s too late
for waking up in a galaxy
of uneaten French fries,
an obscene underground movie
playing an endless loop
while you’ve been in slumber

But it’s too early
for many other things:
spastic colon, arthritis,
dementia, gingivitis
and incontinence.

The present mid-morning
headache,
misgivings about the
past and future
and discovery of
T.S. Eliot are all
right on time. 

(originally appeared in Side B Magazine, 2011)

 

About the Author: Kevin Ridgeway is the author of Too Young to Know (Stubborn Mule Press). Recent work has appeared in Slipstream, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Main Street Rag, Cultural Weekly, Gasconade Review, The American Journal of Poetry and So it Goes:  The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, among others.  A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, he lives and writes in Long Beach, CA.

 

More By Kevin Ridgeway:

Fake Dad

500 Channels and Nothing On

Sally with the Accent

 

Image Credit: Adrien Alban Tournachon “Dog Smoking a Pipe” (1860) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Two Poems By Kevin Ridgeway

 

 

Fake Dad

i was walking out of a liquor store
and he came right at me
with his grey hair and dyed mustache
i realized it was the ghost
of my incarcerated father,
who I’ve been searching
for all my life.

 

 

Midnight Shenanigans

when the rest of the world has let me down,
I amuse myself in the dark with jokes and
invisible girlfriends, waiting for the next best thing 
to happen in my imagination, if not ever in this 
extinguished flame we know as the disappointment 
of reality, a reality we struggle in our words 
to transform the pain into something profound. 

 

 

About the Author: Kevin Ridgeway is the author of Too Young to Know (Stubborn Mule Press).  Recent work can be found in Slipstream, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Main Street Rag, The American Journal of Poetry, Big Hammer, Trailer Park Quarterly and So it Goes:  The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library.

 

More By Kevin Ridgeway:

Sally with the Accent

Five Hundred Channels and Nothing On

My Nephew and I Escape from Prison

 

Image Credit: Walker Evans “Sidewalk and Shopfront, New Orleans” (1935) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

“My Nephew and I Escape from Prison” By Kevin Ridgeway

 

My Nephew and I Escape from Prison

he’s technically inclined enough
at just six years old
to operate most tools 
building things like a filthy
Frank Lloyd Wright
obsessed with the idiosyncrasies
of each claw machine
he intends to break ground with
a shovel and begin digging
his hand like one of his
beloved blue print envisioned
crayola claws until there is a hole
big enough for us both to get
to the other side where I’ll be
charged with explaining to
people that we are prisoners
of a psychological spectrum
we refuse to serve needless
time we could spend building
things, writing poems and on
parole from the menace of
social stigma we are too
distracted by our gifted
obsessions to waste time
paying attention to as
we find the miracles in
the attics of our minds,
minds no one quite has
like the two of us.

 

About the Author: Kevin Ridgeway is the author of Too Young to Know (Stubborn Mule Press).  Recent work can be found in Slipstream, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Main Street Rag, The American Journal of Poetry, Big Hammer, Trailer Park Quarterly and So it Goes:  The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library.

 

More By Kevin Ridgeway:

Sally with the Accent

Five Hundred Channels and Nothing On

 

Image Credit: Vincent Van Gogh “Prisoners Exercising” (1890)

 

Five Hundred Channels and Nothing On

Five Hundred Channels and Nothing On

By Kevin Ridgeway

 

Five Hundred Channels and Nothing On

After Letterman signed off and the cartoon Peacock serenaded us with its three tone sign-off warning me to avert my eyes of the artificial bars of what looked just like the rainbow beam-stitched curtain but no Jack Paar successor hired to keep us all at ease, the retired magician who always demonstrated his improved golf swing in the wake of pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization, while an eerie beep told us to go to sleep. I can’t find those bars or that sound in the months following David Letterman’s retirement ten years after the death of a secret magic composed of wild, wild stuff comedy needs a transplant for so there will be no humorless misery in all the infomercial women that are not even beautiful enough to make an insomniac headache disappear in the nocturnal tenderness of a five am weather girl juvenile gameshow manning the remote from bed at three in the morning as human and animal faces plead with me to adopt them or let them predict my future and I snore through a public access channel’s encore presentation of Dorf on Golf that makes me dream in closed captioning.

.

About the Author: Kevin Ridgeway is from Whittier, CA. He is the author of six chapbooks of poetry. His latest book is A Ludicrous Split (alongside poems by Gabriel Ricard, Alien Buddha Press). Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in SlipstreamChiron ReviewUp the RiverNerve CowboyThe American Journal of PoetryMain Street RagCultural WeeklySan Pedro River ReviewLummoxMisfit MagazineThe Cape RockPlainsongs and So it Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. He lives and writes in Long Beach, CA.

Sally with the Accent

Pablo Picasso, “Femme couchée lisant”

Sally with the Accent

By Kevin Ridgeway

 

Sally with the Accent

she’s from Yonkers
has white skin
white hair
and a bright smile
she used to do social work
and her insight means
she can finish our 
therapist’s sentences
and initiates 
the growing
process
of others
so much
until she stops 
responding to her name
and denies everything
into the fog 
of disassociation
and waking up lost, 
not knowing
where and how
she’s found 
herself again.

.

About the Author: Kevin Ridgeway is from Whittier, CA. He is the author of six chapbooks of poetry. His latest book is A Ludicrous Split (alongside poems by Gabriel Ricard, Alien Buddha Press). Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in SlipstreamChiron ReviewUp the RiverNerve CowboyThe American Journal of PoetryMain Street RagCultural WeeklySan Pedro River ReviewLummoxMisfit MagazineThe Cape RockPlainsongs and So it Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. He lives and writes in Long Beach, CA.