The Girls Next Door Charles Turner Poetry

local_library The Girls Next Door

by Charles Turner

Published in Issue No. 298 ~ March, 2022

I’ve been thinking back on Audrey,

that skinny Jewish milk-white girl

with hair as black and barely kempt

as all my midnight thoughts about her,

(my curdled, handheld thoughts about her),

who never wondered at the wonder

she could stir,

or notice even once my trailing gaze –

unless it was that time I looked away,

embarrassed by her best friend’s

knowing laugh:

that cunning tease, Diane.


On bitter winter days Diane would wear

her red coat open

so we boys of summers yet to bloom

would notice nature stirring in that

certain girlie way,

while Audrey kept her pea coat closed,

hands in pockets, collar up,

which I pretended not to notice,

my fingers tingling in the cold.


Between our two apartment houses

where we used to gather on such days

Audrey and Diane would sometimes


with a taller boy in boots and leather

into his parents’ empty house nearby

(while I hurled my pink Spaldeen

against a wall),

and not come back till nearly sunset –

Diane’s face impassive in the twilight,

Audrey’s eyelids fluttering in the dusk,

and my Spaldeen well squeezed in

numbing hands.


Snow White Audrey, thin and

buttoned up,

of all the maybe-not-or-never girls

who left me frozen, sight unseen,

especially touch-and-go Diane,

why is it you who shame me now

for what I did to you unbuttoned

in my daydreams long ago,

or might have done one

zero afternoon

before you walked away –

like slip a boy’s first-ever poem

into your pale warm hands?


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Charles Turner is a retired Professor of Media Arts & Design at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA., where he coordinated the Film Studies program and directed the university's Ireland in Text & Image summer program.