Clay Matthews' Poem in Girls with Insurance

Clay Matthews–Superfecta

This is a poem, by Clay Matthews,  post­ed at Girls with Insur­ance today. It fits right in here, but please fol­low the link and read the oth­er good stuff they have to offer, then vis­it Ghost Road Press or Blazevox and pick up his book(s), why don't you? I will be doing so forthwith.

Hit-or-Miss Ele­gy

There are a thou­sand ter­ri­ble names

one per­son can call anoth­er, and I have said them all.

All my mem­o­ries begin a lit­tle bit confused,

but I was eigh­teen and stand­ing on rot­ten carpet,

there were short-sleeve shirts on a chair, my brother

and I in a trail­er parked at the edge of a cot­ton field,

Nicky and Ken­ny, two guys we worked with,

all of us for my dad, cut­ting some meth on a small table,

ask­ing if we still want­ed to go frog gigging.

These are the peo­ple that oth­er peo­ple say

shouldn’t have free health care. These are the people

oth­ers say should just rot. Nat­ur­al selection,

rub­bish to the wind, worth­less pieces of shit,

and on and on. The irony here is that they

don’t care about health care, anyway,

they don’t care about the gov­ern­ment, they don’t

care about their teeth or liv­ers, they don’t care

about much but right, right now. A pay­check is a long way

away most of the time. A week is an eternity.

I am friends with these peo­ple, but I am not them.

I am half in love with their lives at eighteen,

and the oth­er half in love with their lives today.

So we all kind of move around the trail­er in dif­fer­ent ways.

Awk­ward­ly with the drugs on the table and a gun

rest­ing in the cor­ner. More famil­iar when it was

anoth­er trail­er that my sis­ter lived in, fourth of July,

baked beans in the oven, fire­works lin­ing up

in the dead grass out­side. Red­neck, poor white trash,

say what­ev­er you want. I’m con­fused about a lot

of things. I don’t blame you. Nicky and I used to work

hard togeth­er, build­ing util­i­ty trail­ers, we used to go out

on Fri­day nights and drink at the Blue Moon,

I was under­age, he was just want­i­ng to be per­pet­u­al­ly young,

won­der­ing about how to get fired from anoth­er job

so he could draw unem­ploy­ment, so he could do nothing

while col­lect­ing your hard-earned tax money.

These are the kind of peo­ple I’ve called names, too.

Whether bum or prick, lazy bas­tard or junky,

we named each oth­er in the day­light and dark hours

before and after we would meet up for drinks.

In my town, we all had names. And we were all known,

too, by the names we’ll nev­er know, mouthed

in the cabs of cars and to dif­fer­ent sorts of friends

and while dri­ving back to col­lege or in line

at the gro­cery store try­ing to buy cigarettes

with food stamps. Every­body wants

so much. Some of my neigh­bors today

would love to be able to car­ry con­cealed pistols

in bars. I would like stu­dent loan forgiveness.

We’re beg­ging, like dogs, lit­tle ide­olo­gies barking

all over the place. And what is right or wrong?

These are my friends. I look at us all

and love us for what we are and are not:

fathers, sis­ters, racists, the unem­ployed, addicts,

ass­holes, etc. and so on. I am eigh­teen again.

I am thir­ty-one next month. I am look­ing at the rain

out­side, wait­ing for the sun, and won­der­ing if Nicky

is dead yet. It’s easy to miss him right now,

being so far away. If he’s alive, I’m sure

he’s still a worth­less son-of-a-bitch. But even

a worth­less son-of-a-bitch deserves better.

Clay Matthews Runoff

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One Response to Clay Matthews' Poem in Girls with Insurance

  1. Clay says:

    Thanks so much for the link! You guys rock.

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