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Kevin Ridgeway

Posted in Kevin Ridgeway, Uncategorized with tags on April 25, 2021 by Scot

MY FATHER’S BIGGEST CRIME

was me
and he wonders
38 years later
in a prison cell
who his son is out there
in the gruesome world
he could no longer live in,
after trying to be a gangster
of the heart and a gangster
of the mind, surviving it
with words as ammunition
to prove just how dangerous
I can be ever since my mother
told me that he was never
going to come home.
I cried a lifetime of tears
until I was able to break
free of them and avoid
prosecution. I’ve got
no more time to kill
with a mind that’s half
of my Mensa mother
and the other half
a dope fiend. I thought
the world owed me
for taking my father
away. I morphed
into a stranger
my father will never
recognize. the man
he created. I’m alone
and on the run from him
in a free world
made insane with
his son hidden in it
as a survivor of
my father’s curse
with endless poetry
that has left me
beyond recognition
and a father to myself.

_____________

NOT EVERYONE IS GOING TO LIKE YOU

I was eleven years old
when it was decided
that I needed to go
to another school
because all of
my classmates
made me
miserable,
but not as
miserable as
the morning
my mother waltzed
into the classroom
on my first day
at my new school
and used a fake
game show
announcer’s voice
to introduce me
to a bunch of
weary crickets.
i emerged
from behind her
and looked out
at my new
classmates
and I could
already see
in their eyes
what they were
all planning
to do with me.

____________

POEM FOR DANIEL WRIGHT

You arrived at the front gates
of the cemetery in an uber
with a musician you traveled
from Missouri with, on your
way to discovering America.
I was your lowlife guide
in a yard full of dead
renegades in arts, letters,
music and plenty of jocks
who didn’t read poetry.
I led you up a hill
to an orange traffic cone
where you collapsed
on top of the dead,
dirty old man
who we both chased
into the pages
of literature.
We said nothing
as he spoke to us.
We hurried across
the large memorial park
in order for you
to get back to the airport
in time but first
we paid our respects
to a San Pedro punk legend
who lost his life
on the same offbeat road
traveled by the old man
and wee lads like us
in the beautiful ugliness
of this world in relentless
search for a beer-drunk
nirvana of our own.

____________

DON’T GET FRESH

My grandma always
said that to us, an old term
intended for perverse men
who tried to take advantage
of her, a beauty that became
wrinkled from the children
she raised throughout
the Great Depression,
a time when she used her
skills as an athlete to wrestle
other women in desperate
matches for money
to feed her children.
I’ll box your ears!
she growled after
I slapped her fanny,
which triggered
her infamous uppercut,
which swung to barely
graze the same face
I managed to plant
onto the floor, where
it wasn’t as fresh
as a hard-won lover.
She took my hand
to help me get back
on my feet while
she hollered at me
for being a pest,
a pest who needed
to get off the floor
she mopped him with.

____________

INSIDE THE MIND OF A TORTURED POET

beyond the time I first opened my eyes
into the fire of this dream, which they all
whispered had finally came true with
the promise I made to myself when
I watched deputies drag my father away
to prison and my mother sobbed against
my shoulders until her tears drowned me
long enough for my mother to never dry
her eyes long enough for the opportunity
to meet her son, shake my hand and
disappear when she was no longer
looking for all of her missing dreams,
dreams where I chase the ghosts
she has left hidden inside of me.

Three Poems by Kevin Ridgeway

Posted in Kevin Ridgeway with tags on June 3, 2020 by Scot

THE REMAINS OF MY FATHER

I picked up a bust my mother
made of my incarcerated father’s head.
I threw it against her 1960’s tile kitchen floor,
and it shattered into a million different pieces.
I gazed at my trembling hands and
licked the blood across my knuckles
after I broke my parents’ hearts
with my revenge killing. I’ve endured
many sleepless nights draped in
a heavy guilt that has left me drenched
in a kind of shame reserved for tainted
angelic boys with the same conscience
that tortured my mother at her
every mistake. I grew up to poison
myself until I transformed
into a supernatural monster
from a place much worse than
any of the kinds of perceived hell’s
they failed to scare me straight with
in order to embrace the false promise
of an indifferent heaven,
a heaven that took away
our lost souls and shattered them
all into a million different pieces.

____________

JUST ANOTHER FACE IN AN ANGRY MOB

 

The supermarket
is an endless line
into the weary indecision
of coupon expiration dates
and my personal
lack of an appetite
for even the most repellent
canned discount meats
smelling of wet roast beef farts
that haunt daydreams
under the poisoned influence
of uncertainty
in the awakening
of a home made ugliness
they curse me with
for clearing my throat
near their healthy,
expensive fresh produce,
salad fix-in’s for
what could be
the end of the world
before I kick them
all in the balls and run.

____________

MY OLD DRUG DEALER

He smiles ear to ear
across Cherry Avenue
at the 7 Eleven,
ready for me
to buy
some crystal
which he paws
into the palm
of my hand.
I flick it with
a finger steady
enough to claim
nine months
off dope.
I tell him
I’m clean now,
but he thinks
I’m full of shit.
He stands there
in the fizzled glow
of an empty,
burned out laundromat,
waiting for me to fall
so he can swoop
in and catch me.

Four Poems by Kevin Ridgeway

Posted in Kevin Ridgeway with tags on December 14, 2019 by Scot

The Kindness of Strangers

we emptied the old house of everything
it collected over sixty years in our family
and everyone gathered to say goodbye
in the front entrance. None of them
noticed I was gone. A tall, leggy beauty
who flipped houses on the real estate market
was oooo-ing and ahhhh-ing
as I used my once useless
and extensive knowledge
of our family’s history
on the tour I charmed her on.
My vivid stories impressed her
before she handed over her business card.
I said goodbye to the old house by reciting
all of my crooked nicotine stained wallpaper memories to a stranger before
we locked its doors a final time
and I didn’t look back when
I followed her shapely ass through
the front door and out of the past.

____________

 

Prison Wives

They are all scattered
about the seaside waiting area,
applying last minute touches
of makeup and straightening
their pantyhose. One by one,
we enter the security checkpoint.
We stare at the guard in disbelief
when he commands our mother
to remove her brassiere after
its underwire sets off
the metal detector. They hold
it up for all to see like a prize
or a Ripley’s Believe it or Not
oddity before they grant us access
to the next security checkpoint
across a concrete bridge
closer and closer to
a bittersweet family reunion
beyond the chicken wire,
my father in tears
while I bounce around in his lap
and in the blink of an eye
they take him back
passed the iron doors
after he makes out
with my mother
in a frenzy
of desperate passion
while the inmate
next to us sticks his hand
under his wife’s dress
in front of their children,
and her eyes roll into
the back of her head.

____________

What Were Those Idiots Thinking?

a couple died
of carbon monoxide poisoning,
my aunt says as we pass
by a motel where the couple
in question tampered
with the heater in their room
and my aunt seems detached
in her description of their grim
and harrowing end
after our family’s most
recent little parade of death
left us all here in a numb void.
I listen to her cold question
of what those idiots were thinking
before I climb out of the backseat
of my uncle’s car into
a world of indifference.

____________

Be Careful What You Wish For

My father had finally come home
after twelve years in a federal penitentiary.
It was the first birthday I spent with both
of my parents. The day I became
a teenager. My brother had moved
out of the house three months before,
so I had them both all to myself.
We decided to visit Forest Lawn
in the hills overlooking
the movie studios, where
we paid our respects to
the dead movie stars
who I worshiped with
the hope that I would escape
from my lonely childhood
at a time when
black and white ghosts
kept me company, and
I discovered who my parents
pretended to be before
they both became ghosts who
watched me grow up in the dark
in search of them in a place
where dreams go to die.

Another Kodak Moment by Kevin Ridgeway

Posted in Kevin Ridgeway with tags on October 1, 2019 by Scot

 

Dad kept tripping
on the fact that
he created me
from out of his scrotum
while we passed
the tin foil of heroin
between each other.
He shook his head
and intoned in a deep,
scary voice that he was
my demented master.

Two Poems by Kevin Ridgeway

Posted in Kevin Ridgeway, Uncategorized with tags on January 21, 2019 by Scot

 

Population Control

it’s getting crowded in the world:
you can’t even people watch anymore,
because too many people are
already people watching you.

____________

 

Silent Movies

Death is an attention whore,
and reaps many of our finest
Living human beings and hides
them in his underworld.
My entire family is there
with Satan and God, even
Gandhi and Mother Theresa,
Charlie Chaplin twirling
his cane in search of
Edna Purviance so he
can save her from a
Mack Swain heavy.
They are all gone,
silence painted
in the faces
but they are now
deadlier than any
sight gag rolling over
the hills from hell
where they chased
themselves away
into the slapstick
of forever.

Dented Grandpa by Kevin Ridgeway

Posted in Kevin Ridgeway with tags on March 21, 2016 by Scot

a photograph from
their 50th wedding
anniversary shows
the rose colored
indentation at the
center of his head
that they all say
he sustained at
ten years old when
a large mule kicked
him there inside the
family barn in Illinois
which revealed why
he had the ability to
cuss loudly in Thrifty
Drug without a care
and embarrass my
grandmother by
refusing to wait in the
car for the prescription
pills that she hoped
would cure all the
side effects from
a blow to the head
that made him so
goddamn stubborn.

El Camino by Kevin Ridgeway

Posted in Kevin Ridgeway with tags on November 5, 2012 by Scot

he holds
a glass
bottle
of chocolate
Yoo-Hoo
between
his knees
and
steers
the car
with its
ancient
dead-skin
upholstery
into a
parking lot
at dawn
to get
his
methadone,

all smiles
as he toasts
that first
post-fix
cigarette
with the silver
burner
and
turns
the radio
knob
to the sound
of Jagger’s
voice
wailing
over Keith’s
guitar

we coast
into
the California
morning sunshine
fortified
for the time being,
bird shit
streaming
across
the
windshield
and the
morning
dew
a thousand
moist
freckles

he exhales
and
you lose
sight
of
everything
in his clouds
of Camel
smoke