I wonder sometimes
what became
of my writing friends
from college life,
like the guy who
retyped Nick Adam stories
and kept a folded picture
of Hemingway
in his wallet,
saying it inspired him
to write about
hunting and fishing
and an old girlfriend
who had an abortion.

I wonder, too,
what became
of the guy
who unscrewed
lightbulbs in floor lamps,
saying it was better
to listen to jazz
in the semi-darkness,
or to just sit quietly
and listen to the hiss
of stubby candles
as they dribbled wax
onto the table.

I try not to wonder
about the guy
with acne scars
and ruddy skin
who wore plaid shirts,
Wranglers,
and rolled-over running shoes,
the one who
threw a beer in my face
when I told him
to fuck-off
when he said
I dressed like a slut.

I wonder even less
about the guy
with flat curly hair
and beard stubble
who saw it all
and did nothing,
just saying
come on,
be cool,

as he inhaled
then exhaled,
passing around a joint
of Colombian Gold

We’d all gather
at the lopsided two-story
the four of them shared,
milling among dirty dishes
and meat-stenched garbage,
the walls plastered
with photocopies
of Brecht and Kaftka,
a poster of Dali’s melting clocks,
and crinkled black-and-whites
of Coltrane and Monk.
Sitting in creaky chairs
or on a busted-down sofa,
we’d flipped through
dog-earred paperbacks
by Kerouac, Burroughs
and Ginsberg,
talking about fascists
and the bourgeoisie,
one guy evoking
Che Guevara,
Neruda, and Lorca
in awkward Spanish.

Sometimes
we slapped bongos
and recited our poetry,
me swaying
in my short black skirt
and tights,
my hair sweeping
over my brown and black
striped shirt,
while one guy
donned a paper crown
then stripped
to his underwear,
wrapping himself
in a Mexican blanket,
to dance barefoot
on the porch.

After midnight,
we’d all pass out
on a single mattress,
a bucket nearby
where we puked,
our clothes intact,
me pressed between
two guys,
my head resting
on another’s belly,
the guy who
called me slutty
curling fetal
by my feet.

Waking to the glare
of afternoon sun,
we foraged for
cigarette butts
and warm beers,
filling pipes
with remnants
of stubbed out joints,
me searching for aspirin
to dissolve in fizzy Coke,
never wondering what happened
the night before.

Image credit:Photo by Krists Luhaers

Ann Kammerer lives near Chicago, and is a recent transplant from her home state of Michigan. Her short fiction and narrative poetry have appeared in several publications and anthologies, and her collections of narrative poetry include Yesterday's Playlist (Bottlecap Press 2023), Beaut (Kelsay Books 2024) and Friends Once There (Impspired, coming summer 2024). Visit annkammerer.com