“Boy” by Ahrend Torrey, a poem from his book, Small Blue Harbor, released in March, 2019 by The Poetry Box, has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize.
Please enjoy the poem, and feel free to leave a comment.
~thank you, Jamaica*
Grab a chain out back of the old Ford; go down to Frost Bridge and help Curt pull his truck out of the gully; make sure you attach the chain right; don’t pull too hard, you might damage the axle; try to be quick; remember to take your sister to youth group; make sure you pick up a couple twelve-packs, your mom is throwing another party; never climb a tree with your gun loaded; never take shit from anybody; if it’s fight or walk away, you fight; always respect your elders even when they’re in the wrong; never associate with fags, like the sissy you are bent on becoming; don’t get a car, trucks are more useful; don’t let your mother find your magazines, you don’t want her to know the truth to why you always lock the door; when pink is the only color, find another; go to the garage and help bring in groceries; wear a condom though it takes a little time; is it true that your lotion is next to the fruit basket?; don’t forget to take out the trash, the paper said the garbage pick-up date has changed, don’t forget; never use nails for sheetrock; never use yellow PVC on toilets, that pipe is for hot water, not cold; don’t leave your lotion on the kitchen counter; this is how you work like a man; this is how you sweat, unlike the sissy you are bent on becoming; this is how you lift weights; this is how you talk dirty; this is how you never bait a hook; this is how you look like a gentleman; but that isn’t my lotion; why would I put it next to the fruit basket?; this is how you tough it up; this is how you laugh at dirty jokes; this is how you take a dip, always keeping a spit-cup wherever you go; this is how you demand more than your share, because the world will screw you in the end, you have to keep ahead; open the door for Ms. Edna; try and be home before twelve; pen-up Jake before the neighbors shoot him, he keeps getting in the trash; this is how you catch a football; this is how you make a trail; this is how you make a trail when you don’t have a machete; this is how you make a trail when you don’t need to make a trail at all; this is how you throw a baseball; this is how you fall in love; this is who you love; this is how you fall out of love; this is how you grease a motor; this is how you take a risk; this is how you appear hard, when everyone’s against you; this is how you fail; this is how you fail and never cry; this is how you fail and get up again; this is how you call a duck; this is how to skin a buck; this is how you aim correctly as not to spook the turkey; this is how you play guitar; this is how to run a bar; this is how you change oil because quick lubes over-charge; experience is the best way to pass mechanic school; but what if I don’t want to be a mechanic, but a violinist? You mean to say after all, boy, you want to be the sissy I’ve tried so hard to keep you from becoming?
*inspired by Jamaica Kincaid’s short story “Girl”
Phyllis Wax says
Beautiful poem! And so true to life in America–at least the way it used to be.