Talking About People We Know – by Kevin Ridgeway

His new wife is a control freak,
doesn’t let him on social media,
which is why I haven’t heard from him.
Everyone’s kids are so annoying, we agree.
Stephen King was a customer at a diner
a friend worked at, and we both light up
when we remember she said he doesn’t
believe in giving tips.  Her cousin was
the one who hit Stephen King with his car,
I add.  Astonished laughter.  One guy
who got a Master’s from Columbia is
married to the railroad now, never sleeps
in midnight locomotion.  Another is a
licensed therapist who toiled internship
hours at Angola, the prison both Dr John
and Leadbelly warned about in their songs.
We pause inside the walls of Angola for a
sobering moment of haunted silence, all of
those poor, lost, beaten souls we will know
only in the groove of a record or the stories
of our classmate’s front line experiences
to end the war on humanity.  Another
friend plays in a famous rock band
who all went solo.  We both lament
the fact that we did not become rock stars
like him.  Steely Dan’s Pearl of the Quarter
oozes out of the car stereo on the drive back
to my hotel.  We talk about how they got
their name from a Naked Lunch dildo,
with lyrics fueled by referential intricacies
we both crave by two men we talk about
like we knew them our whole lives, they
were with us and everyone else all along,
playing in the background while we would
all talk at after parties on long dormitory
nights about how we wanted to do things
that would leave the world speechless.

Kevin RidgewayKevin Ridgeway’s books include Too Young to Know (Stubborn Mule Press) and Invasion of the Shadow People(Luchador Press). His work has appeared in The Paterson Literary Review, Slipstream, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Main Street Rag, San Pedro River Review, Cultural Daily, Plainsongs, Spillway, The Cape Rock, Trailer Park Quarterly and The American Journal of Poetry, among others. He lives and writes in Long Beach, CA.