“v904 (Faux Spirits Series)” Photo by Joe Lugara
By D.R. James
Just Outside Chicago —for Richard You had that same odd-for-our-town last name as who’s still my hero— Lincoln—and everyone hated you, too, except for me. For, once we’d waged our own playground tussle, goaded by my circling friends, we lived a calm paradox that may have been my boyhood koan. Detached, I could discern the archetypes that struggled amidst our conflicted selves: you, the white trash thrashing around in the ring pre-fab’d for your kind— the drawl, the hand-me-downs, the shack on that decrepit block; vs. me, the Beaver Cleaver goody-goody in a house with a mom who never missed a moment to hear the teacher’s praise. I wonder if you know that neither of us would feel welcome now, not at that school, where kids climb down from cars the size of shiny rhinos, or on your old road, which was dozed to hold the high-tech city hall, or along the river banks down your hill, whose once spongy adventures gave way to a paved attraction, crowds of strollers, yogurt-cone eaters, crazed shoppers at their wits’ end of extensive credit, shunning their lives in honest Abe’s old Illinois.
—Poem first published in Lost Enough (Finishing Line Press, 2007)