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Questions, Looking Back

05.21.19 Posted in today's words by

Max Reif’s most recent poem to publish here was “Morning Ablutions” (March 2019)

Questions, Looking Back
(to the class of ’66)
By Max Reif

Why did we do all that? What were we looking for
when we stood conspicuously outside our cars on summer nights
in our madras shirts, white levis and loafers without socks
along the parking diagonals in the median on Balson Avenue
in front of the high school that indentured us most of the year? 

Why did we drive in my convertible, chasing endless rumors of girls
or midnight idylls in forbidden swimming pools that lapped in affluent backyards, 
air conditioners humming like the breath of their sleeping owners?
Why did I hate the Marquees, who appeared
to have real girls and newer cars, and to strut, not walk 
in the eternal parade through our daytime high school halls? 

Why did the world wait to come alive until it had drowned in night
and only our headlights could show us the way, and why
did I feel my blood beating suddenly an inclusive rhythm, 
the night that gang of paroled convicts who called themselves “the 69ers” 
came out of hell with chains to beat people up

and a guy from our football team whose name I can’t remember 
screamed “Lemme at ‘em! ” and dove in their open car window,
or the night—this was before we were even old enough to drive—
when muscular, blonde Huns no more than 18 but looking like giants 
came screaming out of nowhere as my friends and I talked and strolled 
through Heman Park at 3 AM, and we ran for our lives
a block beyond the other side of the park, all the way
to Stanley’s front porch, and woke up his dad—

or in those forbidden, backyard swimming pools 
when a light went on in the house and we had to flee
and someone always did a last cannonball to roil the water? 

O strange admixture—numbed nerves 
and genuine yearning, twisting around one another 
to open those unfathomable gates of night!

One Response to “Questions, Looking Back”

  1. […] Max Reif’s most recent poem to appear here was “Questions, Looking Back” (May 2019).  […]

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