local_library Grey Cedar Farmhouse Weekend Sleepover

by Fred Rosenblum

Published in Issue No. 251 ~ April, 2018

These people — the Mooney’s

were dear to me

Rex, the patriarch

was a Greyhound dispatcher

and the sire to an Irish clan

of Howdy Doody redheads

One of whom, I’d shared a bed with

─ my friend, Mike

the freckled son and nail-biter

Impersonator of the Verne Gagne

vise grip trademark sleeper hold

His jockey shorts were streaked

with the sienna buck sergeant stripes

of an eleven-year-old in a big hurry

His bed was dirtier than mine

had an odor of other than me

His linens were stiff

with far too much starch … and gritty

Downstairs, the Mooney’s

as livestock slumbered – They woke

and broke me from my dreams and silence

with a Morse Code of apnea snorts

The day before, we’d played on boulders

off of Pepper Drive and Tuttle Lane

miles from our separate schools

but mere minutes from our dentist

whose atrocious halitosis

seemed a far greater infliction

than his practice of no-Novocain

drilling into a raw nerve

We’d spied on him in his basement

applying small, taut rubber bands

to baked ceramic molds

One of them

a model of my large rodent overbite

and a replica of my stupid grin

─ all jackal-jawed on a workshop shelf

seated next to the myriad

and equally, stupid adolescent grins

in his menagerie

of hysterical malocclusions

And on that day

we ran like tumbleweeds

pushed by the wind

chased by a small pack

of snarling hounds into a grove

of rotten shimmy poles

following our taunts to a wallowing drift

of squealing Pietrain Hogs

in their pens

And when we

further upon a warren fell

– that element of surprise

had the jump-out of jackrabbits

put a spark to our spines


With a few of Mike’s lazy

summertime pals, who’d merely tagged along

we hid in the hillside rattlesnake sage

One set of binoculars to the four of us

aimed at the volleyball nudists

at a weekend nature retreat

… in a canyon, past cottonwood

and molting eucalyptus

The security, an unclad enforcer

secured his lopsided testicles

with a shroud of camouflage loincloth

…chased us with a B.B. rifle

and a battle cry

while the crippled kid among us

oblivious to his handicap

of schlepping a defective limb

– kept himself abreast of our flight

fueled by super jolts of adrenalin

From the dust and the broken sage

– our terra firma exodus … of this

a boyhood planet playground

of granite undulations

Its slightly acrid sap of trees

coalesced with the smell

of freshly painted stables

where an old nag would hose us down

with a wrought-up blast of an equine sneeze

Our evening meal of meatloaf

took respite in a tulip field

dressed in the classic ketchup glaze

resting there where windmill vanes

churned peas and mashed potatoes

on the glossy, blue and ivory

– a semblance of delftware plates

Under the rosewood dining table

our filthy-naked, played-out feet

luxuriated in the spinal shag

of the Mooney’s spent mutt, Rusty

– a geriatric at thirteen

I remember hiding my peas

in the mashed potatoes

– the method, by which I eat them today

Mike’s younger sister, Cathy

always thought that I was so damned

clever and cute for the slightest

innovations I’d introduce

and at eleven years old

it made me uneasy – but queasier yet

was I when I stepped barefoot

upon one of Rusty’s furtive landmines

– the serpentine coil of the old dog’s dump

gave like a well-cooked candied yam

– hidden beneath a veil of Bermuda grass clippings

I could not wash that foot enough

…and the release of the god-awful smell…

Mike began bleeding from the exaggerated

lip-stretching laughter he’d been avoiding

for most of the day

A chronic condition he’d acquired – required

balm be applied whenever we’d play

Mike and I would continue to comb

the hills of Santee and El Cajon

for a few more years

chucking rocks at ground squirrels

and meadowlarks, jackrabbits

and the presumably abandoned

warehouse windows near Gillespie Field

Hell, we shook the hand of LBJ in 1960

at a rally, the Dems had held out there

It was all banners and brass

and the Lady Bird; Lyndon even wore

a ten-gallon hat, which was slightly absurd

on account of the decorum seemed contrary

to running on the ticket with JFK

It was all the free weenies

we could fit in our gobs

Mike naturally wolfed-down five

of those dawgs far too quickly

Puked into a box full of campaign brochures

declaring A new leader for the 60’s

I pedaled home on my Huffy

– pumped my cruiser up the verboten

Cuyamaca Street, where I glimpsed

my dad in the picture window

waiting to tan my ass with his work belt

Rex was granted a transfer

and moved his family to Phoenix

They put old Rusty down

when his legs gave out

That was the end of our hijinks

Mike Mooney and me

I heard that his dad got him a job

as a baggage handler

in the inferno of Mesa

– slaving in Hell before he’d turn 21

but a lot of us bad boys

would enter the Gates of Hell in ‘68

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Fred Rosenblum is a poet living in San Diego with his wife of 44 years. His poems have appeared in a number of publications, including Cholla Needles, Cirque Journal, Consequence Magazine,, Gold Man Review, GFT Press, Empty Sink, Jazz Cigarette, the Aurorean, and The Courtship of Winds to name a few. His debut book of poems, Hollow Tin Jingles was released in 2014 by Main Street Rag Publishing Company, and his 2nd collection, Vietnumb is due to surface later this year (2017), by Fomite Press.