Poetry by Kevin Ridgeway

Poetry by Kevin Ridgeway



Marty

I saw a
photograph
of my father
taken when
he was just
five years old.
without tattoos
on his arm.
a clean slate
like the one
my nephew
still enjoys
today. long
before he
cared about
what other
people think.
before he
disguised
his pain
behind a
wall of
heroin
and
firearms.
and a
lifetime
before
it was
my turn
to feel
the shame
outside of
a clean slate.

**************************

Grow Up or Die

we keep getting high 
for no good reason at all
you blamed me for wasting
the joint we were smoking
and taking everything 
for granted in a very mean
city where we could easily
get killed after our parents
died and we had no place
to call home, something;s
got to give in order for me
to wait for miracles 
as my mind clears
and my life is saved. 

**************************

Blacktop Showdown

blood squirted from above my friend
Ruben’s right eyebrow where a kid
in sagging over sized clothes covered 
in LA Raiders logo’s stabbed him with a 
mechanical pencil during an outdoor school 
pep rally after Ruben told him he needed 
a Tic Tac for his bad breath in response 
to the initial Yo Mama joke hurled in our 
direction that started it all, House of Pain
blasting out of a nearby boom box.  

Ruben squealed trying to extract the pencil 
from his head while our rival in gold chains 
turned his attention to me.  I rose my trembling
hands in surrender and he started squeezing my
baby fat tits and poking at the exposed belly button
hiding under my t shirt before violently twisting my
nipples back and forth in laundry cycles until they
went from their natural pink to a deep maroon that
glowed in the dark for weeks.

**************************

Underdog Miracle

there is desperation
in the voice of a fellow 
mental patient
of mine who waves
and hollers out 
the name of the
most beautiful 
therapist at our
day treatment program
as she pours her coffee
and flashes him
a smile he finally won,
his sorrow erased.

**************************

The Brat

she speed talks desert rat wisdom
that sounds like a garbled language
she effortlessly spews forth against
the tables outside of the hospital
where we gather for therapy.
she used to mainline crystal meth
and has tremulous hands like
mine, either from the drugs or
the medications or maybe we
were just born this way, but she’s
everyone’s hero as she trudges
forward on her skateboard like
a mumbling warrior of hard-lived
witticism and irreverence, 
this chick who wants to get clean
and get her kids back, this little
ball of fire that reminds me of
an alternate universe version of
my mother and who likes Frank Zappa
just as much as I do, always skeptical
of whatever my current bullshit
is and rarely awarding me a
laugh for something I said,
but when she turns that smile
on at you from the middle 
of a raging tirade at two patients 
who keep asking for change 
to buy sodas from the vending 
machine, this graceful, lovely 
rebel that we must all bless
makes you feel like you count 
for something in this world. 

*************************

PUBLICATIONS & PRIZES

Chapbook:
Burn Through Today (Flutter Press, 2012)

Journals:
Emerge Literary Journal, Gutter Eloquence Magazine, Quantum Poetry Magazine, Red Fez, Santa Fe Literary Review, Underground Voices