—a poem by Wayne Burke

As a kid
I was not afraid of ghosts;
my big fear was that I'd be beaten to death
by a psychopath.
My only defense against bullies and
whack-jobs was
to run; either on foot or bicycle.
But to stay out of danger meant
being super-alert
which was hard
I only had sugar then
to get cranked-up on.
One day, while half-asleep and
day dreaming of becoming the next
Jim Thorpe,
I was collared, on my way home from school
by Foot Ramone
who lived somewhere on the back road
and usually came out only at night.
Foot had done 3 years of 6th grade
before they kicked him out
and no one was sure if Foot was male, female, or "other."
Why Foot disliked me, I do not know--
it does not matter--he dragged me backwards
through a pond-sized ice puddle
as if trolling me for bait
then left me
and cold as a dead mackerel
on the roadside.

Wayne Burke's work has appeared in FORGE, miller's pond, and Northeast Corridor. He was poet-of-the-month in Bareback, 7-13.