“Riding Shotgun,” “Burn Off,” and “Contagion” by Wanda Morrow Clevenger

Categories: ISSUE 02: Billie

Riding Shotgun
Ancient history, the time I did weed; Patti coaching
“don’t inhale, just swallow the smoke – same difference”
and Mom was right to worry I’d fall into the wrong crowd,
traipsing around after dark, not going straight to the dance
and straight home.

Patti made a criminal of me, cross-legged on her ’70s shag.
Candles glowing. Fleetwood Mac wailing do it do it do it.
And she dissed me for liking the band–Mac yesterday’s
high–but the vinyl spun and the weed passed regardless.

And Patti expected to dis a fumbled first toke too, until
the guy on my left put his mouth over mine and blew.

 

O Typekey Divider

 

Burn Off
I’m not one bit sorry for seeing for myself his matchbox
across town bought through homestead monies and
left to his son, the younger one in-house. Brother to sister
I neither knew, half-siblings to two more and we four more
–all incidental burn off.

Meeting was awkward for every reason including
he looked a stick figure near collapsed into kindling.
He felt inclined to stir the pot, ladle from his side
of the table should I have been fed my entire life
on false information. Between pulls on a thin cigar
he recollected a man with a gangrene leg and how they
could smell this death coming a mile away.

And it was a hell of a thing to say how he heard tell,
at the corner bar I’d make guess, what a cat-about
I became but he didn’t use that word or any other, just
implied something he couldn’t possibly know about
a girl so coolly exhaled.

 

O Typekey Divider

 

Contagion
I hated the manipulation that stuck us
with the rat trap, trashed by a hapless
drunkard because his wife checked out
with a plastic bag wrapped head; bullet
blowing flimsy seams to smithereens.

And how self serve reveled in reload and
jealousy aimed and moronic mindset
blew the whole damn thing to smithereens;

we might all survived had hate stopped
at taste not swallow.

 

Poems by Wanda Morrow Clevenger
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Background photo by Sarah Edwards
Foreground photo by Misti Rainwater-Lites