Cheryl A. Rice


Plywood porch rattling as the steel nails loosen
in Central New York’s preposterous winters,
you return to the scene of the crime,
our crimes, trailer that was ancient
when you acquired it, purchased with
pin money from your mother’s tight fist.
There it reposes, a corpse unburied,
surrounded by the usual trailer park tropes—
broken bikes, barbeque grill full of a summer’s worth
of burger droppings, skirting dangling like
a cheerleader’s homecoming tease.

Do we repeat the past to understand,
believe our own fairytales,
time’s retelling of events, choices
that shape our lives now?
Encapsuled in that tin oasis,
I was safe for the weekend from my
rotten corporate comrades,
could visit the thrift shops and
mom & pop grocers that still clung to life.
I could do laundry in house,
concoct exotic meals of salad and sea witch
that your homeless twins would still never eat.

We chased lobsters on my blood money budget,
recharged my morale for another week’s worth
of soul rape by Powers I sold the rights to.
Your ragged life seemed simple then,
tho I know it was not, fragments and evolutionary
shift of your tectonic bones, cool breezes of loneliness,
shock of abrupt booting after years of carnival trots.
Your trailer door could be shut, and with electric, cable,
a new video or two from the shop on the highway,
plaid was the star of our passions,
wood paneling the background noise for our auditions,
popcorn microwave, toaster oven fish sticks,
lake too big for either of us to swim around.

I would be remiss if I didn’t marvel
at the thing itself still standing,
veteran of the resilient ‘70s,
Vietnam Era escapee.
I would be out of time if I wondered how
our life together might have gone in reverse,
me throwing myself on your snowy shore,
grinding gears in your gravel welcome,
invading the sanctuary of your exile,
no longer a distraction but just another
trailer park verse.
I would be ungrateful if I neglected to note
it has been more than a decade since you left
with hesitation, bravery, sorrow.

You left it as you made so many other moves,
peripheral blessings aside,
hope for an end to insanity when all else had collapsed
under the weight of all this love.


Twice a Best of the Net nominee, Cheryl A. Rice’s books include Dressing for the Unbearable (Flying Monkey Press),Until the Words Came (Post Traumatic  Press), and most recently Love’s Compass (Kung Fu Treachery Press). Her monthly column, The Flying Monkey, can be found at, while her occasional blog, Flying Monkey Productions, is at Rice can be reached at