August 15th, 2022
Poem By Carter Cumbo
Photograph by Maya Heins
I dream my friends speak to me, the ones I left behind.
The ones shrunk to spittle
in the yawning oval of an airplane window.
Little Lafayette, Colorado, cracked cement porches
entombing haunted mine shafts.
Behind gates on the skirts of town,
one percenters with pregnant teen daughters.
Single mothers east of Old Town, Sir Galahad
and Minotaur Drive, with teen sons in rehab,
stretching paychecks and losing sleep daily.
The dead brothers on drugs in the arms of live brothers
on the same drugs, the young
lovers mourning spirits with bottom shelf
ghosts, sat against the car,
butt on the asphalt,
taking deep drags from a cigarette.
I heard the Boulder money rumbled in, booming cannons
of Patagonia clad conquistadores,
hailing down indie
boutiques and a dozen options for brunch,
attacking any empty space inside brick
and mortar with craft beer and cornhole.
I heard the Sonic is now a bar for dogs.
Dear Lafayette, Colorado little Anywhere, America,
Dear Anywhere Americans.
It’s ok if you don't love me back,
I drank your mom’s whiskey and slept with your girlfriend,
I befriended your boyfriend
after. I rarely call. I love you.
I have not forgotten, here in Portland, Maine
wondering if every hometown
feels as cursed
for the kids who grow there,
joined by a collective survival.
How Jerry died on cut Xans,
why not us? Remember,
we did dumber shit than that.
Half a gram of dope inside
a cowboy killer hard pack
Aaron’s tattoo says his parents are on fire,
blacked out, strung out,
bombing dad’s minivan down 36th
Jaime’s parents are just her mom,
one of us half hung
out the window
Wesley’s parents aren’t parents anymore,
eating all that air through
my parents are doing just fine.
As though I was bathed in a whiter light,
my friends bursting incandescent, burning cigarette-
yellow, smoldering over apartment
railings and under parked cars,
inhaling the exhaust
like addled street cats, eyes glowing
to behold a bloody sunrise.
I dream my friends speak to me, those cats,
slyly from the corner of their mouths,
the cigarette bobbing between
chattering teeth, mumbling,
we were never really friends.
for me to believe them. I mean this for endearment, we are the butts
of a grand joke, our butts being proof—our relationship to each
other's butts—that god really gets our sense of humor, and supplied
us with endless material. Below the jokes, an endless web of irony.
Prayer: Lord—for the love of god—please don’t let the joke go over
our heads, keep us always from the purchase of alligator loafers.