Prairie Poetry   
  Liberty Mo – 1955

Don’t recall seeing this many cars
Moving around Liberty in 1955
Don’t remember but a dozen drivers
When I was a boy and
Maybe people didn’t need to own cars then.
Old man Denlinger, insurance man
He of small brush moustache
Of doublelocked office at precisely five pee em
Walking briskly to his home, wife and daughter
On the same locust, maple and shrub gathered streets
With the same umbrella, hat and briefcase
But a different newspaper each day.
Doc Rust could hardly ever leave his office so
Had a cot in the alcohol scented storeroom
Across the hall from the small treatment room
With its dark leathery accents and unfriendly jars
And six lab coats on hangers
To replace those bloodied by Liberty’s misfortunes.
The Cohan family’s "full service" music store
In the ginger brown Victorian
Was just the fresh oil-burnished downstairs
Of the same three-storey in which they lived.
After retail hours, music found the window cracks
Clarinet, violin and trumpet lesson remarks
Freed themselves from stuffy rehearsal rooms
Lurched along the street in a drunken waltz
Throwing up red-gold leaves onto my shoes.
Solid Denny Wallace was one of two
High school icons who owned a car, but no paint.
He lay under that rounded jalopy
In the grass, behind his folk’s house
More often than he sat on its cigarette burned front seat.
He laughed with big, white teeth when it ran good
But knew he could never trust it out of town.
Plenty of cars and trucks way out past Kansas Avenue
Where two-ninety-one hurried by at obscene speeds
Avoiding Kansas City’s nighttime and its glow of
Slowdown-and-notice-me lights to the southwest
Reflected off clouds of hydrocarbons
While me and Billy Hunter chased
On/off fireflies at the edge of
Darkening woods that couldn’t stand still
For very much longer.

  Ron Beam
  Copyright © 2006 Ron Beam
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