Kevin Ridgeway

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The Day the Music Died

One time back in college,
I started singing a song 
I’d written during an acid trip
to my classmate, Shelley, who
told me not to quit my day job.
I told her I didn’t have one.
She told me I needed to get one.
I didn’t listen to her, but I didn’t
listen to myself, either,
because even I can’t remember
the words to a failed song
no one will ever hear again.   

Laughing in the Face of Death

Her best friend had died,
and I was a failure at consoling her.
I'd lost many people to the Reaper
in recent years.  I got tongue tied
and just listened to the rawness
of her grief.  I handed her a tissue
and told her to let me know if there
was anything I could do.  She glanced
at her phone, when she began to laugh,
drying her tears and I asked her
what was so funny.  She showed me
a photograph I'd posted on social media
of me in my underwear, which chased
away her tears.  She passed it
around to our fellow patients
to my protests and they laughed
so hard, the ground underneath
shook like a massive earthquake.
Thank you, she said.  I needed that.


Kevin Ridgeway is the author of Too Young to Know (Stubborn Mule Press) and nine chapbooks of poetry including Grandma Goes to Rehab (Analog Submission Press, UK). His work can recently be found in Slipstream, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Plainsongs, San Pedro River Review, The Cape Rock, Trailer Park Quarterly, Main Street Rag, Cultural Weekly and The American Journal of Poetry, among others. He lives and writes in Long Beach, CA.