Ephraim Scott Sommers

Cryin’ Bryan

I’m telling Michelle I saw the careening, rosy Honda
scoop up Bryan at the ankles, that I saw his head dive
into a spiderweb on the windshield,
how his body cartwheeled Olympic-like around
the air and his skateboard spun off and got lost
beneath some car in the Food 4 Less parking lot,
and I’m telling her, as he limped with one shoe
to a seat on the red curb next to me, how I did not
see him cry, not once, never, not when being axe-chopped
by a street-hockey stick in PE, not when his knee
dislocated on the quarter-pipe coping, or at the itching-
powder or testicle slapping incidents of 1999
in the lunch line, I mean fucking never, and I’m telling
Michelle all this with my hands as she perches above
me on the party barn stairs like a cartoon Pocahontas
dragging her wrist across her sour-apple-Puckered
lips. I’m telling Michelle all about the Bryan nobody’s
ever heard of because I’m eighteen and already I’ve learned
praising people I barely know and saying I don’t believe
in God is a way to make myself seem touchable.
Four-wheelers plow their voices into the field
while the California Valley yanks down the sun,
and there is no feeling like misreading a moment
of silence as an invitation to kiss. Someone might be crying
down on their knees behind the half-pipe again,
but everybody’s gathering, standing with beers koozied
in the backs of their pickups, for another square-off
and will never notice because what’s about to happen
is the shit everyone Friday-nighted all the way out here
to see, even you. Molani owned the Honda, dumped
the itching powder, Molani the Mormon with the Vicodin
addiction, Molani whose parents will later torch
their own house for insurance money and skip town,
Molani whose mouth has started fifty fights his body
never jumped into has finally agreed to one-on-one Bryan
at the party-barn with no cops around for miles
to stop it. The crowd circles, and since you’re here too,
you know how a crowd can feel the violence
in the air like aerosol or a light rain on the back of its neck,
and as the first hands are thrown, it is the lack of sound
that surprises, and you bark to fill it, cheering on your underdog
or your friend, and as Lorca says, the body floats balanced
between those two opposites, suspended in hypotheticals,
and not being able to see over your shoulders for a moment,
I feel like Milton listening his way through a forest
hearing the poem of tall trees, and when you wiggle in
and get a view, I wiggle in next to you, and we laugh,
and after a few bump-ups when it becomes clear
that Molani is one minor clip away from asphalt
and my best friend Trafton from the side with a ten foot running-start
flings his sledgehammer-hand to the back of Bryan’s head,
we have arrived at the moment our sides have been chosen,
and for your sympathy, you’re going to be some kid
going down in A-Town, in the night, in the human ring,
and I’m going to be one of ten kids kicking you.

A singer and guitar player, Ephraim Scott Sommers has performed music in cafes, bars, flatbed trailers, festivals and strip clubs on three different continents. Recent poetry has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Copper Nickel, Cream City Review, Harpur Palate, The Journal, TriQuarterly, Verse Daily and elsewhere. New work is also forthcoming in American Poetry Journal and North American Review. Ephraim is currently teaching creative writing while a PhD candidate at Western Michigan University. Please visit: www.reverbnation.com/ephraimscottsommers