There’s A Stratocaster Now, With Real Metal Strings On It

When the kid was nine he lost his favorite toy. 
He was playing with it on the sand near the lake 
when some punk who was bigger than he was tore it 
out of his hands, threw it in the lake and yelled, 

“Swim for it, sissy!” But the kid couldn’t swim. 
He couldn't do a damned thing except stand 
at the edge and watch it sink, then turn around, 
walk home, and waste years trying to forget it.  

Decades later the man returned, and as he stood 
at the water's edge, his toy suddenly floated 
to the surface—and the punk's words surfaced 
along with it, like a wound that never healed, 

stinging his memory—but this time he waded in 
to get it, and he realized that the water was warmer 
and shallower than his younger fear had fathomed—
and that his toy had been preserved in the same 

condition it sank in! He felt such a wave of 
fresh excitement that he swam with the toy 
across the lake to the farthest, rockiest beach 
he could find—then he smashed the hell out of it, 

left it there and swam back. Still the bitter boy, 
you think? Probably. But that toy was no Rosebud. 
It was a dime-store plastic guitar with plastic strings 
that were impossible to tune—you couldn’t actually 

play it. The sissy thing had it coming all along.
A version of this poem originally appeared in Issue #4 of In-Flight Literary Magazine 
published in July 2015 by the Paper Plane Pilots. Tell 'em I sent you.

Cold Sky Above, Crashing Sea Below

You told us 
your life
was going to be
                           
a dead run 
or a dead stop,

“and absolutely nothing else!”

Then you smashed 
down the pedal
and held it there
                           
until all your 
haughtiness 
(and the highway) 
was gone. Well, 

you won't need  
cigarettes or gas
where you’ve gone: 

cold sky above, 
crashing sea below,

and absolutely nothing else.

Farewell, farewell 

(idiot), 

farewell.
This poem originally appeared in Issue #4 of In-Flight Literary Magazine 
published in July 2015 by the Paper Plane Pilots. Tell 'em I sent you.