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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 1: January 2020
Poem: 210 words
By Kevin Ridgeway

When I Grew Tall Enough to See
Behind My Father’s Eyes

I had finally heard a song 
that expressed my wordless mind 
and my wordless feelings. 
I can’t remember what it was called, 
but it was mean, sleazy, and sung 
by Mick Jagger. I first heard it 
in the passenger seat of a stolen Cadillac 
my father hot wired in a grocery store parking lot. 
We drove around Rancho Palos Verdes 
and those big green hills loomed 
in quiet mystery over the violent waves 
of the Pacific Ocean, a primal scream 
over smoking guitars and a growl of pain, 
to a secluded alcove on the private beach 
we broke into and we both screamed 
when our flesh hit that water to freeze 
our shared blood, a primordial howl 
into a setting sun where I discovered 
my father’s broken dreams 
and I began to swim in them 
until we were both on the shore 
and he whispered into my ear 
words I will never repeat, 
words that are mine to remember 
when we both shared hope 
before he disappeared 
and his voice greeted me again 
in the static fray of a collect call 
from a faraway penitentiary 
to apologize for a future 
when I would be standing 
on that beach alone. 

Kevin Ridgeway
Issue 1, January 2020

is the author of Too Young to Know (Stubborn Mule Press). Recent work has appeared in Chiron Review, Cultural Weekly, Literary Orphans, Main Street Rag, Nerve Cowboy, Plainsongs, San Pedro River Review, Slipstream, Spillway, The American Journal of Poetry, The Cape Rock, and Trailer Park Quarterly, among many others. A nominee for Best of the Net and the Pushcart, he lives and writes in Long Beach, CA.

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