Tornado Alley


Saturday nights, we used to
gather all of us in Tami’s basement.
Her mom brought down snacks
at quarter-hour intervals
while we spread out
on bean bags in the dim TV glow,
near touching, trying not to
breathe too loudly.
But it’s hard to enjoy a romantic comedy
when you’re still a virgin,
so most nights we boys left early,
stomping our bike pedals
down those field-shadowed roads,
all the way to Mom’s Arcade
winking and bleeping
behind the old pizza place,
where glass women
leaned their great, luminous cleavage
over our nervous pinballs.
Sometimes, though, we stayed
to watch a bridesmaid
confess her love for the groom
after an extravagant misunderstanding,
John Cusack raising his boombox
like a knight’s standard.
Afterwards, they asked us
if we understood, this now a test
and we, their star pupils.
We shrugged and looked down.
Outside, wind pounded the windows
which shook in answer,
as though asking to be broken.

Previously published in Boxcar Poetry Review.

Michael Meyerhofer’s third book, Damnatio Memoriae, won the Brick Road Poetry Book Contest. His previous books are Blue Collar Eulogies and Leaving Iowa.

Object(s) to bring back to life: “Widespread use of View-Masters, fedoras, and passenger trains.”