The 2River View 19.2 (Winter 2015)

Randolph Bridgerman

reading to an empty room

what is it that makes me want
to drive seventy-five miles one way
in a car with balding tires
and an odometer on its second go around
to read poems to a man eating
a bran muffin and reading a newspaper
picking raisins out of his teeth
and mumbling under his breath
that if he wanted to hear goddam poetry
he would squeeze his gay sons head
until he spouted some of that shit off
and there’s the couple in the corner
sucking face so hard i could be reading
a suicide note on why i picked this
coffee shop to end it all and take them
with me when i blow a smoking hole
right here in the middle of this strip mall
forty feet deep
and then there’s the two old ladies
every poetry reading has them they come
together and sit right up front waiting
to hear something serious   
something that takes them back
to the days of sunday walks after church
of moonlight drives
and lovers lanes    
but when my first poem “big dick willy”
has them cracking a smile
i’m thinking they knew
this guy too


joseph must have had the toughest
daddy issues not that every kid
doesn’t think their father is God
but what if he actually is
and when the holy ghosts
been in your woman
how do you stack up to that
most men would have dumped her
and no one would have blamed him
or my father who came home
from the war to a pregnant wife
but like joseph he wanted to
do the right thing too
and still it ate away at him
always feeling like the odd man out
every argument my parents
ever had ended with my fathers
oh yeah well you fucked
the next door neighbor
and i wonder if it ate away
at joseph that way too
with the father
the son
the holy ghost
and marry too
he must have felt like a fifth wheel
like most of us stepfathers
like joseph with his honorable mention
and the rest of us with no
mention at all

Randolph Bridgeman has four collections of poems: South of Everywhere, Mechanic on Duty, The Odd Testament, and, forthcoming in 2015, The Poet Laureate of Cracker Town. contact

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