The caddies in the background stare
Down fairways at the latest lies,
And foursomes toss their madras ties
Behind their backs, shift feet, and square
Their shoulders. Another drive implies:
Exurban sprawl is everywhere.
Inside the clubhouse, seersuckered chaps
Escort in pairs each ribboned dress.
Rehearsing their nouvelle noblesse,
The Southern Belles sneak sips of schnapps,
Impress upon their beaus with the bareness
Of their backs to slow, quick, quickly close the gaps.
And down a hallway, past some doors:
Starch, menthylated scent of smoke
Is tracked beneath the help’s non-bespoke
Wingtips. Matte, scuffed, the hardwood floors
Echo orders: sparkling water, rum and coke,
some “Chivas Regal neat, two fingers.”
Propelled by weary daylight, make-
Shift practice fields, and prewar oaks and birches,
In the bower of decorative side porches,
Lacrosse irks the keepers of these historic
Trusts. Everywhere, spring crowds. In nearby churches,
Empty pews wait patiently with clerics.
On repaved Main—past boarded antique
Windowfronts, train tracks, bad real-estate
Investments, the sugar mill, the interstate—
The local dive serves Colt 45 to Sikhs,
The underaged, and prison guards alike.
The sidling precopulate first date
Boasts matching patches, pocket eight-
Balls, love for Guthrie, glass rose stems thick
With tar and memory. What’s due
Is tabbed, walked, rarely paid, past, lent,
And long over— A true embarrassment
Of riches. There’s dry rot everywhere. Tattoos
Fading like a last call song descend
Into the night. One Shipley’s Donuts shop prepares
The batter, frying oil, Easter specials and registers
The line outside. One day begins, another ends.
Off Liberty and 9th, a toddler whines
For breakfast. God Bless Our Goodwill-
Furnished units, the Southwestern Bell bills,
Rexall blush, and popcorn ceilings defining
Home, the mother thinks. She scours
The shelves for cereal and powdered milk,
Her closet for her Sunday’s best sham silk
In time for our most sacred, segregated hours.
Jake Ricafrente’s work has appeared in Chicago Quarterly Review, The Cincinnati Review, The South Carolina Review, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from The Johns Hopkins University and a PhD from Texas Tech University, and he served as a Rotary Foundation Fellow and Writer-in-Residence at the University of the Philippines.