Sunday, April 25, 2021

New Poetry by John Cullen

Forgetting You

Carelessness was too careful
for you---a borrowed car crunched to rubbish
and a lousy two hundred bucks 
seduced you to buy drinks
all night with red
abandon.   Any woman you met
became a target.   That’s why
I’m forgetting you.  

I remember you crouched, wedged
in fact, between toilet and wall, shivering and sniffling
while one room away your son cried
himself to sleep in a cut down television box
on layers of old blankets.  Your wife cried
at the table, “I can’t keep going,
I didn’t know what to do!”  
They stayed with us six months.  
“I’ll get it together,” you promised,
again.  You raged and threatened, then
asked for more money.                    

You ate your meal of sorrow, and drank indignation.
Finally, you moved out.
The stray cat returned two days
later, sniffing the yard, fearful
of any sound.   No one heard
from you for over a year, no phone call or birthday
present, no midnight distant call,
not even a promise leaked
on wet tissue.

Now we hear you died.   
No surprise.  You weren’t saving someone
from a burning building or even trying
to mow the lawn at whatever dump
you made your recent house.
Your neighbor called 911
after a week of not seeing you, and the police
found you bloated by alcohol
and heat in a rental hammock.   
Someone read in the paper

you had died, then asked
what happened to your wife and kid.
I won’t even say where
they live, patched up
clothing and minimum wage job
the best they can do for now.
They still have that photograph of you
on your bike, back once again
facing the camera.

But, hey!
None of it matters.  
I’m forgetting you 
as fast as I can.
I mean it. 
This time
I mean it.

- © John Cullen 2021

John Cullen graduated from SUNY Geneseo and worked in the entertainment business booking rock bands, a clown troupe, and an R-rated magician.   Currently he teaches at Ferris State University and has published in American Journal of Poetry, The MacGuffin, Harpur Palate, North Dakota Quarterly and other journals.   His chapbook, TOWN CRAZY, is available from Slipstream Press. 

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