David LaBounty

Along the Road to Freedom

in between jobs and wives,
heading west on the
Pennsylvania Turnpike
in my ‘73 Olds Omega
which would have
been cool if the
year wasn’t 1995
and cooler still
if the car wasn’t
rust lime green
with a hand-painted
racing stripe
down the middle
of the hood but
the car only cost
two paychecks
six months earlier
and it was
all I had and
I was glad
for it because

I was leaving wife
number one on
the east coast
and headed home
for Michigan or
maybe further
west, I wasn’t
sure but I
only had
two hundred
bucks in my
pocket and
to my name
and I felt
the giddiness
of freedom
and the joy
of the open
road when
I stopped
for a whopper
and gas somewhere
near the shadow
of Pittsburg. I
felt just damn
fine even though
it was August
and ninety-five
degrees outside
and the Omega
had vinyl seats
and no AC. I
felt just fine until
I went to drive
away from the
pump. I turned
the key in the
ignition and
the engine
turned and
turned but
would not
fire and I
examined my
twenty-seven years
and my life
at that moment
no place to be
and no one there
to help, my bright
freedom suddenly
turning dark and
purple like a deep

Boy Scout

you quit the scouts
before you got
anything out
of it and that
doesn’t change
the fact
that you’re the
man of the house
and you’re supposed
to hunt and gather
and provide for your
family and it’s
a Wednesday
between paydays
and you’re forced
to forage in
the kitchen
and there’s nothing
but saltines and
slices of shiny
yellow processed
cheese and you
eat about half
a dozen little
cracker sandwiches
and wash it
all down with
a tall glass of
water mixed
with generic
and you know
that people
can adapt
to anything


their own shortcomings.

A Straight Shot of the Sun

it’s the urbanized suburb

it’s the sidewalks
ripped out of
the ground by
the towering
maples and
oaks that bend
the sunshine
in such a surreal
and beautiful way.

it’s the shrinking schools
full of fat and tattooed parents
driving rusted Chevrolets,
wearing sweatshirts and jeans.

it’s your small house
that doesn’t stretch
with your children
and belongings.

it’s nirvana further
out, halfway to
the country, it’s
the brand new
schools and skinny
parents in minivans
and suv’s, in sweaters
and skirts, in shirts
and slacks.

she makes you go and look.

you drive for an hour.

the subdivision is full of
brick houses and copper
awnings and there
is a community pool
and wouldn’t it be lovely?
the kids could swim
through the summer
and there are jogging
paths, you could start
to jog, you know,
get back in shape.

the subdivision is new
but already full of children.
play structures pepper
the nearly treeless
landscape save
the saplings
that line the streets.

you hate it.

you hate the pretty
houses and the
smiling pretty people
that chat with their
new neighbors
in this flawless community
forged by some corporation.

but you really hate the sun,

you hate how it shines

it’s light over everything.

the hook

Warroad, Minnesota
and this was probably
1981 or 2. I was
the thirteen year old
boy that none of the
girls wanted to kiss
or even touch so it
was the town library
for me, a narrow
storefront crammed
between the drug store
and barbershop and
it was barely
funded by the
village of a thousand
souls and the librarian
knew me, she knew me
well and memory
is a tricky thing
I do remember her
as a thirty something
epileptic and the
whole town whispered
that it was because
her parents were
first cousins and
I was cool with
all of that even
though she had
something of an
overbite and
was deaf in one
ear because she told
me one summer
afternoon as I
was checking out
Hardy Boy mysteries
I could probably
read and understand
Hemingway and
she grabbed a hardcover
copy of
The Old Man and the Sea

and that was it,

I haven’t been much
good for anything
else ever since.

A Dogmatic Poem

Somehow, she
heard about
your friend,
how he cheated
and cheats on
his wife over
and over with
hookers and
barflies and
she says,
that’s disgusting
you shouldn’t
hand out with
him anymore
and true,
you know his
wife and kids
and how
adultery is
and there is
a loathing there
but there is also
twenty years
of friendship,
twenty years
of memories
and beer and
so you say,
I don’t care
and then you
say, he who
is without sin
shall cast the
first stone
she rolls her eyes
and then you say,
Jesus came for
the sinners and
not the righteous
she walks away
you walk down to
the basement to
dig through the
boxes of ignored
books and you’re
looking for a dusty
and smooth-paged bible
only because
borrowed words make great
stones and ammo.


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