Remember the night we parked in the alley behind your grandmother’s house, the kitchen window, the cathode light from the black and white TV, and how we mimicked your grandmother cheering for the wrestler, Reggie “The Crusher” Lisowski, waving her tiny clenched fist uppercut. We laughed ourselves into our own desperate embrace, clasped in a bear hug of polarized electrostatic discharge. I showed you my best moves, a frantic knee lift over the stick shift progressing into a scissors hold, the gear knob delivering a low blow to my midsection. And how, after a prolonged front facial you executed a deft duck under into a modified figure-four-leg-lock, pinning me against the door. Clumsily I reached under your blouse hoping for a takedown, and just as I was about to undo the final hook of your bra and apply the patented dragon-screw-leg-whip, your Grandma Añya rapped hard on the steamed windshield, yanked open the car door and from your lap I fell, head down on the pavement between her feet answering to the accusing eye-gouging finger of Añya, the four foot ten inch wrath of God. And from there, the view up her skirt, past the drooping support hose, past the varicose veins to her white boxer shorts, and back to her prayer calloused knee that dropped down across my chicken neck. I remember her face, the high cheek bones drawn in a grimace, her squinting eyes, and her raspy voice, her words just like The Crusher’s, "How ‘bout dat!" as I cried, "Añya, for mercy’s sake, Añya."
Les Bares lives in Richmond, Virginia. His poems have appeared in The Cream City Review, Stand Magazine (U.K.), Spillway, The Midwest Review, Southword (Ireland), Slipstream, The Tishman Review and other journals. He won the 2018 Princemere Poetry Prize and was the third place winner of the 2015 Streetlight Magazine poetry contest.
mother said you couldn’t come, that she was sad you wouldn’t make it, that you were held up at work, there would be leftovers in the fridge for you, she said you were held up at work or drinking, she said don’t set the table for you, it’s a waste of a clean dishes, not licked clean again like a new woman, mother said you couldn’t come and she was sad, you were held up at work or with her, i would do all the dishes myself this time and show you i can be a big boy i promise, if you were here and not with her or at work or held up, mother is sad, she made a meal for you and you couldn’t care enough to make it home, mother said you wouldn’t come back and you didn’t.
Jason B. Crawford is black, bi-poly-queer, and a damn force of nature. In addition to being published in online literary magazines, such as High Shelf Press, Wellington Street Review, Poached Hare, The Amistad, Royal Rose, and Kissing Dynamite, he is the Chief Editor for The Knight’s Library. His chapbook collection Summertime Fine as a Short List selection for Nightingale & Gale. Jason is also the recurring host poet for Ann Arbor Pride.
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