Poetry No. 12 – Gabriel Ricard

In The Suburbs of Wilkes Barre
By Gabriel Ricard

I am not unhappy.
I am waiting in line for a sandwich.
I am sleeping off setting my arm on fire earlier tonight.
I am four years old, trying to make sense from the backseat
of two rapid, screaming, rosy faces.

None of this amounts to a religion of millions of tiny photographs
of bees and streetlights that make up the larger picture of Pac-Man.

And it’s not that a lack of power cords and spiritual ties
is the religion either. Okay? Let’s make that clear. We can ask for money,
beg for money, burn the Christmas presents in the living room,
write letters for your boyfriend’s husband’s screenplay
about the vengeful zombies that apparently characterize
all the lonely mailboxes. We can play Nintendo, take mushrooms,
play the fuck out of some more Nintendo,
and fall straight down the cramped flight of stairs that takes you
from the attic to the second floor of your grandmother’s
charming, forlorn three-bedroom in the suburbs of Wilkes Barre.

Hopefully, I’ll go first.

We can do all of those things. We can mow down
those smug little assholes from Little League.

We can do anything,
as long as we don’t talk about why
I’m not unhappy,
and as long as we don’t talk about why
I would rather fall down your grandmother’s stairs again
than elaborate on why I’m not unhappy.

It’s not religion.
It’s not rock and roll.
It’s not waking up on the 1998 houseboat.

It’s just what we’re going with,
until we either have children,
or I slip away back home
under the cover of the righteous, unbelievable
coffee and beer and pre-death-race commuters hours.



Gabriel Ricard writes, edits, and occasionally acts. He is a contributor with Cultured Vultures, a contributor with Drunk Monkeys, and an Editor with Kleft Jaw. His first book CLOUDS OF HUNGRY DOGS is available now. He lives on Long Island.



Photo by: Gessy Alvarez