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Kevin Ridgeway

Poem for the People

Who Have Nowhere to Go

I always like to jam

with salt of the earth

people, the forgotten

ones who don’t have

even a kiddie table

to sit at, people like me

now back here in

the cold turkey shakes

of my withdrawal from

my false sense of family,

people I miss who pray

for me and the day

I will be well enough

to board a bus or a train

or an airplane again

among other discount

souls homesick for

a place none of them

will ever go again.


The Balance on My Gift Card

to Black Bear Diner

I arrived shortly after dark

in a suburb of Denver

my best friend used to live in

but he moved three hours south

by the time I arrived there

before I learned to pay attention

to updated details about my friends,

some of whom don’t even want

to talk to me after my latest

blunder here in love, when I broke

my new girlfriend’s bong up against

her wall and made a suicidal run

for the edge of town and a squad

of cops at my new hotel room

who delivered the court summons

for broken property and could see

how sorry I was for the whole

shameful ordeal, and they felt

sorry enough for me to give me

a free gift card to Black Bear Diner,

which they said was three blocks

west of my hotel. After they rolled out,

I starting walking to Black Bear Diner

after spending most cash I’d of used

to eat on weed. I got to the spot

and they could not determine what

my balance was on the card while

my stomach started to growl.

I called Black Bear Diner

Gift Card Services, who took me

through a long list of security

questions that included taking

a photo of the gift card with my

cell phone, and that’s when

the automated operator told me

the balance on the card was zero.


Poem in Which

My Dead Girlfriend

Gives Me Shit

I answered her silent questions to me

as I stormed up Pacific Avenue to

the post office, sending off late books

and other unfinished business she began

to haunt me over after my latest

short-lived romance fizzled. She said

I broke one cardinal rule she used to

have for me: “Don’t fuck up.”

I stood there washing my clothes

at the laundromat in a depressive effort

to love myself because she couldn’t

anymore, and neither can all the people

who are still alive if I push them away

by behaving like a recovering primadonna

who had relapsed, a spotlight bathed on

the crown of shit I made and wore

upon my crazy head for all the confused,

angry and brokenhearted people to see.


Kevin Ridgeway is the author of Too Young to Know (Stubborn Mule Press) and nine chapbooks of poetry including Grandma Goes to Rehab (Analog Submission Press, UK). His work can recently be found in Slipstream, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Plainsongs, San Pedro River Review, The Cape Rock, Trailer Park Quarterly, Main Street Rag, Cultural Weekly and The American Journal of Poetry, among others. He lives and writes in Long Beach, CA.


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