Poetry No. 22 – Christina Kallery

 

BURNOUTS
by Christina Kallery

Downriver Detroit, 1987

“There’s enough burnouts out there to go hands across America”
Heavy Metal Parking Lot

You’d see them rolling joints in class, textbook propped
to hide the task, feathered hair fringing their eyes,
a starter mustache shadowing their upper lips. Always
a few hanging out on empty bleachers, trading swigs
from something bottom shelf in a paper bag.

And always the jagged lettered logos of their concert tees,
their suede boots like the ones worn by the guy in 7th hour
fine arts. He pulled them on every day, in snowbound December
and blazing June, laced to the knee over jeans tight
as snake’s skin, belt buckle shaped like a woman’s
clutching hand forever poised just short of third base,
a heavy metal send-up of the poet’s Grecian urn.

I never knew his name, but I recall his cloud-grey,
half-mast eyes, his Bic-penned scrawls
of fiery skulls and undead guitarists,
his public makeouts with some girl by the acrylic paints.
He’d float through hallways, an apathetic ghost
gliding onward to its dead-end job, jail term
or other bad turn. But it would be sweet
justice if he dodged the old clichés and got by ok.

It would be a flipped bird from the window of a black
Camaro they said would never make it off the blocks–
watch it peel onto the entrance ramp, rebuilt engine roaring,
to catch the last gleam of sunlight fading fast behind the trees.

 

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Christina Kallery’s poetry has appeared in The Collagist, Gargoyle, Failbetter, Rattle, and Mudlark, among other publications. She has served as submissions editor for Absinthe: A Journal of World Literature in Translation and poetry editor for Failbetter. She currently lives in Detroit. ckallery@gmail.com

 

Photo taken in the East Village, NYC.