Sunday, November 20, 2016

Poems I Admire #25

Ruby (1954)
Roy Beckemeyer

You always wear men’s pants, un-tucked
work shirt. I once asked my dad why. He
just grinned, said “More comfortable, I guess.”

A Camel hangs from the corner of your mouth.
You chalk your cue, tell old man Solis again
what a lousy eight-ball player he is, smirk, hunker
over; line up your shot, grind your cigarette
into the floor; stretch over the table.

Your hair falls in your eyes, a comb-over,
barber shop style, same sandy-brown color
as your scuffed men’s shoes. You tilt onto your
toes, the shirt falls away and I see a hint
of slender waist. My illusion of you as shapeless
falters a bit, but then you straighten up, spit
reality into your empty beer bottle, shift
the chaw around in your cheek.

How can you be real here, in this no-stoplight
small town? In the tavernous darkness you are
pigs-feet-in-brine-on-the-bar real,
swaggering, boisterous, cussing real,
never-leaving-until-the-bar-closes real.

But you walk home alone every night,
down cindered alleys to the barks of dogs
who should know you by now, under stars
lost in sultry air; barely glancing at all those
windows open to the breeze, where curtains
flutter like white moths and wives in sleek slips
toss and turn and stir in their sleep.

First published in Chiron Review

Roy Beckemeyer was born in Illinois in 1941, earned a BS in engineering in 1962 and served in the United States Air Force. He moved to Wichita, Kansas, in 1966 and has made the state his home ever since. He received an MS from Wichita State University and a Ph.D. from The University of Kansas, both in engineering. He worked almost 30 years for Boeing, retiring in 1997.

He has written poetry most of his life, but began a period of sustained and consistent writing in 2009. His work has appeared in a variety of mostly regional literary journals, including Gazebo, Beecher's Magazine, Kansas City Voices, The Midwest Quarterly, Straylight, The North Dakota Quarterly, Nebo, Mikrokosmos, Coal City Review, and The Bluest Aye, as well as in the anthologies Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems (Woodley Memorial Press, 2011), and To the Stars through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga (Mammoth Press,2012). He was the Kansas Authors Club poet of the year for 2013, and won first place in Beecher's 2014 Poetry Contest. His first book of poetry was published by Coal City Review and Press in 2014.

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