Writer of the Month: Kevin Ridgeway

Prom in the Year 1999 

The Polaroid her father
took shows me in an ill fitting
tuxedo, my Aqua Net polluted
accidental white boy
Little Richard hair
towering above an acne ridden
face that was too small for its
forced smile
standing arm in arm
with a beauty in bridal white
her vanilla ice cream hair coupled with
a smile whose wattage was bright
enough for reciprocating camera flashes
and the pages of Seventeen.

the dance floor
was over a shark tank at the
Long Beach Aquarium; I stepped
on her foot a half a dozen times
peering at the hammerheads
wiggling their fins to Pretty
Fly For a White Guy.  we had
that opportune moment alone
in the darkness of the captive
sea, but I hesitated for too long
and I sat in my tuxedo at home
by eleven, watching the
latest breaking news car chase
and smelling my breath in my
hand for clues to the mystery
behind the rental fees of an
overpriced belly flop

she didn’t speak to me until
I got up enough nerve to ask her to
sign my yearbook on the last
day of school, and she
squinted through her inscription.
she handed my annual back
and whispered “good bye” with
a wide step away from me and
down the hall, her short dress
pitying me as they both moved on
and everyone crowed a unified
hallelujah praising the gods of
summer

the Polaroid blushes with
apologies regarding its subjects
when discovered hiding in
scrapbooks with pleas to my mother
to skip over it as she pours evidence into
the laps of new girlfriends who try
to rescue me from these blooper
reels and the sense memories of
that rotting corsage that fell from
my date’s wrist that I couldn’t find
in the darkness of an audience
of bored jellyfish staring back at us,
wiggling upward to the vibrations of Prince
grooving from a popular 1982 song, but,
unlike him, we were too afraid to party
like it was 1999. 


Kevin Ridgeway is from Southern California, where lives and writes. Nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, his work has most recently appeared or is forthcoming in Chiron Review, Re)verb, LUMMOX, Bicycle Review, Bank-Heavy Press, Chaffey Review, Trailer Park Quarterly and The Mas Tequila Review, among others. He is the author of five chapbooks of poetry, including All the Rage (Electric Windmill Press, 2013), 66 Lines on Your Soul (co-authored with Catfish McDaris and Subhankar Das, Graffiti Kolkata, 2014), On the Burning Shore (Arroyo Seco Press, 2014) and Riding Off Into that Strange Technicolor Sunset (forthcoming, Weekly Weird Monthly Press, 2015).