"Polio" and "Highway"

Polio

Charlie Baguette's brother Davy
who had polio
used a crutch;
he stood by the porch and
played 45s on a record player
as Charlie and I stripped the 
thorny pulp off horse chestnuts
and put the ebony nuts into
a brown shopping bag
and threw the nuts that night
Halloween
at the Camels' house across the street
until cops came with their shining blue
light and
we ran 
into the backyard shadows--
the Camels thought they were better
than us, and were mean too
like the German Shepard they kept chained
in their yard;
Davy played Running Bear 
Loved Little White Dove
(with a love that never died)
it was the beat of the tom-tom 
had set Charlie and I on the
war-path.

 


 

Highway

my Uncle the Mayor
got me a job
with the highway department
for the summer
until I returned to college;
Ken and George and me
in an orange truck
Ken drove,
he was a smile-er
a "good morning" of white teeth
he had pleats in his slacks
and did not like to get dirty;
George sat in the truck
during coffee break
and drank half a pint
(the other half at lunch)
we stopped at pot holes,
got out,
I shoveled the sweet acrid-
smelling hot tar
then tamped the stuff down
and rolled it...
One afternoon on a desolate stretch of road
I looked up
at a Cadillac passing
and recognized a girl in the
passenger seat
one of my classmates
and I waved
but she 
stared through me
as if
I were invisible,
or else
she was.

 

 

Wayne F. Burke

Wayne F. Burke has published five full-length poetry collections--four with Bareback Press, and. most recently, one with Alien Buddha Press (In Dreams We Chase the Lion, 2018). He lives in the Pine Tree State.

 

Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Thursday, December 27, 2018 - 23:58