Kevin Ridgeway

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That's what the deputies called us
in line at five am for court
in velcro stitched suicide gowns
that made us captive,
low-rent Roman warriors
"The dings behaved themselves
the most on this trip out of anybody"
one of them said to the other
and the inmates in general population
told us they were out for our blood
and I escaped with my ding mind
because I knew how to truly
shut the fuck up
or become somebody's
bitch hardcore and nasty,
another misunderstood face
in another broken crowd.

The Most Notorious Street Corner in Long Beach

she asked me from her seat between two parked cars
adjacent to a burned-out laundromat
if I was afraid of black lips, her African American attitude
an authentic kind of sass which gave birth to rock n roll
before white people stole it.  She lit a broken piece of glass
and upon exhalation with a helium voice told me I was sexy
before I knew it, she kissed me and blew all of the crack smoke
into my mouth and I exhaled it all through my nose.
I felt nothing but a fast beating heart and a broken mind.
She had to go hustle for five minutes in order to pick up
another rock.  She insisted that we must
get nasty wet later on when the streets became
dark and void of the safety of common decency,
when she hoped to share with me her deranged ideas,
twisted dreams and warped memories.
I murmured an inaudible shit, having forgotten to go
in for group therapy where everyone smelled
like cheap laundry detergent and came equipped with
a stained discount store Cheeto-mustache and minds
which were never or were no longer warped
by street drugs that I sampled in their absence,
having stolen my cheap thrill that day from a woman
who I broke my promise of an alleyway fuck to
when I ran east on Pacific Coast Highway
on my way to the more affluent part of town,
in neighborhoods where I hid out most days
when I wasn't trying to fool pushers, pimps
and ho's into giving me a free hit or two
with a glimpse behind their eyes
into a world full of those of us who
all lost our souls when we thought
we had all become free spirits.

Two Chicks at the Same Time

It was after an N.A. meeting
when we’d all relapsed,
me and two Mexican girls
who removed my pants
but I refused to perform
without a rubber, so we
called the whole thing off
and the fatter of my two
new friends cut a weak
fart she was trying
to hold in.  We laid
there until morning,
birds chirping a
guilty verdict while
we wasted our lives
in a feverish desperation
to get our rocks off
that has left us feeling
sexy as garbage cans.


Kevin Ridgeway is the author of Too Young to Know (Stubborn Mule Press).  His poems have appeared in Slipstream, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Big Hammer, Lummox, Spillway, Street Value, Main Street Rag, San Pedro River Review and The American Journal of Poetry, among others.  He lives and writes in Long Beach, CA.