Sick of rereading my science fiction, no longer hungry,
and bored with music, I pace to the window over the alley.
Two barbered boys in cargo shorts, thick-armed, thick-bellied, talk to
a girl (or should I say a woman?) who listens with cocked
head, her legs, in capri pants, fidgeting. The shorter guy steps
back between a new black Corvette and the dumpster (McDonald’s
for yellowjackets) and waits for a black couple riding their
scooter to pass him. Chalk dust smokes up from the gravel. I watch
him adjust his cap, the treetops flutter above his yellow
brick building, the clouds migrate northward, though the sky that buoys them
is perfect. The clouds are precisely white. The frat guys’ stances,
the girl’s smile to leave with, are part of their absorbing
story. It’s all the way that I want it. I walk to the door
past sloppy papers—a painter could not compose them better—
downstairs by airy diagonals of wood, into the alley
filled with the smell of rocks and exhaust, the glint of cars and sparse
grassblades. I hear the cicadas chant at random of summer.
Gerald Friedman grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, and now teaches physics and math at Santa Fe Community College. He has published poems in various magazines, most recently Santa Fe Literary Review and Rat’s Ass Review. He’s the last Gerald who has the nickname Jerry.