As another Midwestern summer falls to quiet end,
the children’s laughter quickly turns to cries of
stockings lined with coal.
The fastballs still come,
however, they peg
the unexpected body
in the form of compacted ice and snow. Preferably,
yellow like the goofy idea to make baseballs fluorescent
yellow and orange in the 1980’s.
I remember many summers that fell in 1980-something.
Endless little league practices and games,
crushes on girls named Amy, Valerie, Kimberly, and Melanie,
Star Wars (Lucas and Reagan), G.I. Joes climbing blanket mountains in my
Bedroom, fighting with Russia on tv.
I remember my first skateboard.
Matt Hensley. H-Street.
Black grip tape, Independent trucks, Swiss bearings, Slimeball wheels.
Popular outcasts in and out of
When I was a kid in the 80’s, there were woods and fields to
ride bikes. Haros, Dynos, Mongooses, and Huffys
raced and jumped with their pegs,
plastic and aluminum mags,
shiny silver spokes, rotors, and,
most of the time, breakless.
We had forts where we’d smoke the butts of
our parents cigarettes
and plan some scheme that involved the
younger kids taking most of the risk.
A graveyard lined the main woods, to the south.
It’s odd to think back to when we played war while
an ex-member of the military is being put to rest,
a 21 gun salute as
the fat kid lights a smoke bomb to let his team know that
their flag is doomed.
Occasionally we’d find roaches and nudie mags in or around
our forts. In the summers underwear and other clothing would wind up
in the mulberry and raspberry bushes. Never in the grape vines.
A man named Virgil supposedly lived in a woods that was close, but
in a different neighborhood. He was said to not only molest children, but
torture as well.
I don’t know if it was him or some other old man that I saw
wondering along the bike paths,
shirtless and hungry.
I was about 11 or 12 when one of the
neighbor kid’s step dad beat up a bully that was
chasing his wife’s kids and
didn’t go to jail or court.
That was in the 80’s when everything revolved around
blow, ridiculous amounts of hairspray, rock ballads, and
fluorescent colors blinding like the threat at
the end of the Cold War,
a space shuttle that never made it.