Poem: Dead End or Cul de Sac

By: David Lohrey


Trish: yes, she was the varsity slut at my high school.
It’s so great having memories. I remember it all.
Male and female electric sockets. Krystal’s hamburgers,
4 for a dollar, and a chocolate shake for a quarter.

I remember the boy accused of brushing his pubic hairs, and many others,
but the one I remember most was the sixteen-year old black boy Carrie Allen,
my best friend, who was in our 9th grade class, but would never finish.

Carrie, who walked with me very day after school and bought
me lunch at the burger counter in the back of the neighborhood
store, Fred Montesi’s. A street fighter whom I loved,
Carrie was a real friend.

What I recall is that blacks can be a whole lot more than just cool;
some are warm. Some understand friendship. Carrie Allen was cool
all right, just like Johnny Carson. He was my only friend in the 10th grade.
He was the only one I could talk to. He was physically dangerous.

He lived in a crummy shack on an unpaved road with a broken fridge
on the front porch. I had no idea what he saw in me, maybe I let him
copy my homework. I can’t rightly recollect. Maybe I was
his only white friend as he was the only black I knew.

My brother and my father would have a good laugh over Carrie Allen.
He was not allowed to come inside our house. Some years later,
after I’d been away, brother told me at the dinner table that Carrie
Allen had been killed in a car accident.

“He died.” My brother spoke with his best acting smirk on his stupid face. He
wanted me to react. I didn’t bat an eye. My father and he thought that grief
would prove my weakness, evidence they could use for future humiliations.
“See! You care about a nigger. You’re a fag.” This is how sick it got.

Forty years on I’ll say this. I remember Carrie with affection.
I scarcely think of my brother and when I do, I shrug. I couldn’t care less.
He’s nothing to me, along with my father, the liar. There were no blacks
permitted in our house. He had his way, fine.

But today, fifteen years after his death, I feel nothing for him but contempt.
The family jewels were safe but his son, me, grew to hate his fair-minded lies.
The dead bolts and the self-righteous smirks of liberal compassion. By 1975,
the rule was no Afro-Americans allowed in the yard. Things were changing.


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