In honor of my high school friends, here and departed, this is my poem “Summer, 1975.” Thanks to Whetstone for permission to reprint it.
Grand Funk and Black Sabbath
tapes were the soundtrack for
the last summer that really mattered.
The only people in the world were
those of us who sat on car hoods in the park, or
played Frisbee on Main Street until five in the morning, or
parked one county road over from the drive-in to
watch Jaws–the third feature all summer long–just
waiting in stoned bliss for that big shark to
silently rise above the cornfield standing between
the screen and us.
I met Dale’s cousin
from Little Rock at a Fourth of July party
by the dam. Her name was Julie, and she wore
cutoff jeans and a Styx t-shirt. Her pink tongue
torturing purple bubble gum made me
understand why people steal cars and
hold up liquor stores. She gave me
deep Bubs Daddy kisses, and we talked of
what it would be like to live right on the beach in
Florida, and how wild we would be
if we were there.
On the last Monday before
school started, Dale and his motorcycle tried to
beat a Union Pacific train to the crossing.
He didn’t bleed, but it broke every bone.
(Later the ambulance driver told me picking up
Dale was like trying to lift a great big
water balloon–nowhere solid to grab on.)
So we faced our first funeral sitting in the
back row of the Presbyterian church, apart
from the ties and gloves down front. When
Julie walked in wearing a black dress and hat
almost like her mom’s,
something ended, and
the cornfields outside prepared to
surrender summer’s yield.