kentucky

by J.E. O'Leary

i could not breathe in kentucky. something in the air.

but i could not leave, as the river was too wide.

 

someone kept a folger's tin under the overpass

for cigarette butts. at night we would jump.

my brother would wait at the top of the hill

to "keep watch" as he put it.

 

poor dave, doomed dave, would tease him about his fear.

"no fear," my brother said. "no fear, dave. fear is the

mind-killer." always a murky one, my brother.

 

jump then, dave said. he was insistent.

but my brother said that was the reason they were all safe-

his watch. "they tell me there are dreams everywhere,"

he said. "i'll let you know."

 

nobody not even poor doomed dave offered

to stand watch for him so he could jump. my brother would

have had an answer for that too. if there was one thing my

brother always had, it was answers.

 

not 200m from the bridge, east, towards town, there was

and abandoned yellow short bus we would occupy for

our post river activities. it was the dusk of cars: if you

squinted one way you could see a giant, short of love,

short of tires, short of work.

others would squint and wonder how it ever got there in the

first place. assembled from buried parts? towed? rolled?

because look - it certainly never ran.

 

under the hood was a whole ecosystem. wet leaves

and fungus sludge. seedlings sprouting out of crooks

you didn't know where, you

couldn't imagine how the seeds got in there.

half the seats had been taken out and had vanished.

the others uprooted and arranged in a circle.

in the middle the scars of a fire pit that smelled vaguely of

rubber when started up again.

walls thick with cigarette smoke.

 

we waited for nothing.

my whole life happened there.

i'm still there now.

About the Author

J.E. O'Leary is a songwriter, stage performer, poet and visual artist from NYC. For over 20 years, largely performing under the stagename Joe Yoga, he has been bringing his music and art to NYC’s stages, festivals, subway platforms, and gallery walls. He has performed at the Nuyorican Poets Café, the New York Poetry Festival, KGB Bar, and at numerous other poetry shows. Musically, his unique songwriting style and passionate performances have made him and favorite of and a fixture at venues across the city.