“Your friends are not dead, but gone before,
Advanced a stage or two upon that road…” Aristophanes
Of my friends, I cannot say much, save for the fact
every-single-one-of-them tweaks for bleach.
They seem to live for the bull, but I twitch
on a dime when I have to split-rent with liars
who can’t fit a saddle or haul their own
crabpot—who ate all my apples?
Warm days I’d dream my face
cool against a schooldesk—see the fires lit
beneath stilted porches, appaloosa horses
running to the center of a green field. Garnet
fireworks shocking shadows off oak moss
as slash pines on Landis Green turned October
-orange—I definitely heard the deafening
banshee shouts from eighty-thousand throats.
Lauren Hindman threw a cop’s helmet
on her strawberry dirty-mop while a bicycle-parade
wheeled Tallahassee’s Timucua and Seminole roots
to red dust in a spangled-montage of bloody-stars.
Of my friends I cannot say much, save for the fact
Grant’s blue-nose pitbull yanks the leash
as wannabe-Chieftains and princesses strut fringe
past Belle Vue where I drank the zephyrs
and dripped chemical-research.
On spirit weekend, Elise and Mary-Katherine
rollerskated pom-poms and pony tails
through weekend-abandoned psychology
hallways—they oval-shaped Miami neon
lipstick shades onto their mirror-mouths;
freckled caterpillars in the chrysalis of youth.
We stood before infinite spines of a library
like an anti-war sculpture by Claes Oldenberg.
Most afternoons we sat locked-inside-our-filthy-minds,
the College Avenue plywood half-pipe of drop-dead howl.
We fluttered butterfly-polish against pocket-mirrors,
primped, scratched Ticonderoga lead across
We stared at the cheer captain’s cocked-leg,
the purple-ribbons in her blond braid.
Dakota and I snake-slid on gravity,
skitched longboards and split bones, wafted
smelling salts like chalk pieces dipped-in Ajax.
Florida was a shrimpboat in a bomb cyclone,
and we fished like we were going to haul full nets,
come back to new deckboots and free beer.
It never happened. Every Mayport family drank
the days to black at The Brass Anchor,
and in the end, nobody said Grace or blessings.
No giving nobody no sugar.
Warm days I’d dream my face
was a shrimpboat in a bomb cyclone,
turning water oaks to golden fireworks
shades gravity black, sees eighty-thousand
apples and free beer abandoned
in the center of a green field.
Forrest Rapier has poetry forthcoming in Dead Mule, Levee, and West Trade Review. He has received fellowships from BOAAT, Looking Glass Falls, Sewanee Writers Conference, and has also held writing residencies at the University of Virginia and Brevard College. Former poetry editor for Greensboro Review and North Carolina Writers Network, he recently received his MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he now lives and hikes the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.