“A Jacket With Teeth”

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“A Jacket With Teeth”

Never the rain slicker that gets dirty or sloppy spaghetti sauce, or spilled derogified coffee cream souring as it dries. No, but,instead it’s the sweet cashmere, velvet, valore, denim jackets of the world with the satin inlays, maybe? The ones with the puffy breasts, and secretive pockets for secretive things. Those are the ones.The ones that when you roll around in a pile leaves, the schmere of dog shit remains on the sleeve just at the cuff. Jackets that call for bird droppings from above. Coat coverings that are prideful and vain, the ones that tempt fate. Magnets for malign. I love how people take offense  at their sports team of choice, and  complain about having to add another championship patch to their jacket because there’s no more room or that it makes the design look a bit off. then somehow, whatever they do, they up and die and you see them in the casket with their modified jackets containing all the spoils of death all the roiling churning rotting meat. tokens put inside the pockets.packs of cigarettes and cigarillo, lucky poker chips, perhaps a used pen that doesn’t write under water. also, when no one was looking, that young gal you had the good time with sneaks in a pair of panties that were there when the lights went out. those are the stuff,  the things. the portable property that follow you to your penitent end, pertinent end, palliative end. patience gone with the rest, and sometimes we wear Champion sweatshirts out, and then it rains. the material gets moist and soaked, and thoroughly heavy, weary heavy.  those were all the rage for a while. they were items of status. if you didn’t have one in my neighborhood when you were a kid, then you weren’t with the cool kids. clothes make the man. I don’t know, one time John Rivers showed up my house with a garbage bag full of secondhand jackets which he was going to sell to me for a modest price. I can’t remember if I bought one, but I do remember trying one on for size,  and then I thought about his mother and the times that I witnessed her humanity. For me, I was just as excited in the second grade when I received my first Baracuta jacket with the tartan inlay. It was a gift for receiving the body of Christ into my body. sacrilicious. there as a little piece, a loop,  in the back that you could hang your jacket out on a hook. between that, and the Scally cap I was as third generation Irish-American as they come; getting a particular and peculiar parochial education. playing street hockey until the dusk overcame us. listening for church bells so that we knew when to be home in time for dinner. Spaghetti-O’s Spaghetti-O’s, Beefaroni, what is it? Full bellies in short nights, ended with early morning entry behind regimented school yard lines, that ended up somewhere in dark coat rooms with book-bags, and lunch pails, and lunchboxes and Kelly green Baracutas hanging in sequence. Secret pockets full of string, and Star Wars figures, and Topps Hockey Sticker Book Stickers. Ready to be pealed and applied. Inside pocket made a nice place to stash a plastic .45 revolver, and you could get to it in a pinch. and then when we heard about being able to obtain a switchblade comb at the U.S.S. Constitution Gift Shop, we went all in, until our parents found out. Regardless of uncombed hair, Michael Jackson taught us that we needed switchblades to settle our differences. Thank God, we never made it to Neverland. I don’t know if a Baracuta jacket could have protected me from that broken soul. wrapped neatly around my waist on a spring trip to Pine Banks. Perfectly, Baracuta. I jacket with teeth. And I chased the girls around the rocks, listening to the delights of Footloose Soundtracks, and other magical notes on the portable-not portable boom box upon my shoulder. Bigger than a breadbox, smaller than a car. I don’t know what happened to that jacket. I only hope that it found it’s way to another as deserving, or more deserving soul. youth plays invincible, and in order to slay dragons, you need the appropriate armor.

“Raindrops and Tubesocks”

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“Raindrops and Tubesocks”

When I was a kid,

I enjoyed being outside in the rain.

Not directly, of course,

But, huddled in a doorway, or a shed.

Breathing dampy.

Listening to the regal pitter-pat of raindrops drumming on corrugated roofs, or the splintered plywood of makeshift forts.

Raw earth and drinking greenery would tickle my nostrils,

And car contrails of mist would space the distance according to the traffic tempo.

If you listened carefully, you would hear man-sized Tonka Trucks, pile-drivers, and the whistling sound of landing planes on final approach.

The safety of a semi-dry place during all of this,

Made me feel the good alone.

Defying nature, until it was time to return home.

When I peeled off my soiled Chuck Taylors from puddle stomping missteps.

My white socks would be ink black.

40/40: Summer Poem Slam-a-bam! – Day 12 – “Dappled Spectacle”

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“Dappled Spectacle”

We lived on the second floor growing up.

The sounds of neighborhood proximity danced through the screens and curtain sheers on sunny shadowed mornings.

The aliveness of the day pulled us out of our sweaty summer beds, and coaxed us out, out.

At times, our apartment felt like the sun, and we would need to escape outside to a Bunker Hill breeze.

There was one box fan for the whole apartment.

It toiled, satisfactory, but disappointing.

A dip in the Clougherty Pool, could take the sting off.

Then we’d play endless evening rituals, while our mothers squatted on park benches and smoked butts.

The Slush Guy would come ringing his bell.

Small 50¢, medium 75¢, large $1.00.

Lemon, Watermelon, Banana, or a Rainbow.

We’d haunt our mothers until they fidged quarters and moist dollar bills that smelled of tobacco from their change purses and cigarette cases.

My mother always kept her potential cigarettes in the refrigerator. She’d say, “it keeps them freshah.”

Summer nights lasted through orange-blue skies, that got further into shadow, just as the games of hide and seek would start to get good.

Then we’d hear the call.

Time to go back to the heat rising second floor walk-up.

Sweat the night, and be up all the earlier the next day, to get out into life.

A very special thank you, to the neighborhood of North Mead St. a great place to grow up, and share with so many great people. I truly miss them all, and dance with their ghosts as they wind their way through my head.

40/40: Summer Poem Slam-a-bam is a project in which people have joined me for 40 days and 40 nights of on-demand poetry. They have submitted the concepts, ideas, and subjects; I’ve done the rest.