summer of '93

my best summer was my worst summer.

i'd ride from garfield to uptown
   stop at wendy's for scalding coffee
   carry it on my bike
   to duquesne and that bar class

sit through lectures, estates and trusts,
   corporations, contracts and torts
looking at the back of your head
   smelling your ponytail
   (but you never turned around)

pedal downtown to the arts festival
   soak it in, summer art and people
lunch with ani difranco on that tiny stage
   burnt-out car sculpture
   shouting all that violence

then up up up the long long hill
   l o n g   h i l l
   past churches, gas stations, bars
studying people on the cathedral lawn
   reading in a carrel at hillman library
   perched with coffee at the beehive

freedom in unstructured summer hours

i went with her a few times
what did she like? the park with the lake
   melissa etheridge (i didn't)
   weird hair and rings on toes
   most interesting, her artist father

and the other, who loved me
and the other, who followed me
   drunk kissing

and you. always you.

we took our test and i ran away.

when you called me out from exile
   i thought i'd lose my mind
   you, calling me, in my solitude?
but you had to tell me about the dean
   trying to keep us from the bar
   "bad moral character"
   we had to find lawyers and respond

your next call shocking me out of seclusion
   you had crashed
   your car skidding on slippery pavement
   into that group of children on bikes
a child died. a child died.
your photo in the newspaper
   the bandage condemning you
   the child's mother damned

a child died.

how much could you take?

i came home to your solitude
   in your sweltering apartment
   unable to be witnessed
that summer evening on your rooftop
   sitting quietly with the weight
   nothing to say
all i knew to do to care for you
   right there on your rooftop
   binding me to you again

in that best of worst of summers.


  1. reads like a Springsteen song, and I feel like I've said that to you before.

    "sitting quietly with the weight
    nothing to say"


  2. Great scenes, a clear feeling throughout. Wonderful stuff!

  3. Powerful writing and an incredibly riveting story. The work of friendship and compassion, to simply sit with the person "with the weight of nothing to say." A wonderful poem. Grabs the reader.

  4. Excellent writing and this part
    really got my attention:
    "i came home to your solitude
    in your sweltering apartment"


  5. Are you going to add this one to "destined?"

  6. ah, thanks for asking. i haven't decided yet.
    it seems to interrupt the flow of "destined," and it's a little redundant of some of the story there.
    maybe. i don't know.
    you know you named "destined," right? :)

    if you're reading this and aren't following along, "destined" is a longer story-poem, to which this poem is related. there's a link to it on the right sidebar of my blog, just under the tag cloud.

  7. When you said worst, I was not prepared at all. the depth of this work is unbelievably good.

  8. will i ever be done with this? that is the question.

  9. it wouldn't take too much tweaking to make this fit with the rest of "destined." the scenery may be different, but the emotional landscape is the same. as far as completing it, you'll definitely know when it's done. you can always go back and flesh things out, but there does come a point when you have to just let yourself finish.

    i enjoy your poems. they have a weight that makes them demand contemplation, that plucks at heartstrings; but they're never heavy-handed.

  10. thank you, ian, that is very nice to hear.

  11. A very clever and poignant reminiscence of student days in the summer. I particularly liked the reference to torts(ugh) and the fascist dean. It's amazing how any of us (the sensitve enlightened ones i.e.) survived!

  12. ha! rallentanda, i did not say the dean was a fascist. how did you know?
    yikes! yes, we lived to tell the tale.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts!