@ 27.105 MHz: For Tommy, My Former Neighbor; Today Is Your Birthday

Best friends since kindergarten, and---

through the four years of Shock Theater's run---

lovers of the Universal Monsters; and of

Eerie Magazine (even the oldest issues in my

collection never seemed stale when shared together).

Some, on this dead-end street, disliked and disparaged

you:  I thought you looked beautiful, with those long

magenta tresses and your slender body---obviously masculine,

but with a nuance (just the slightest trace!) of the

provocatively (and erotic---I did not know the word then) feminine.

So our conversation, that sultry evening, under the

shade of the massive maple tree in my parents' front yard,

was not a particularly remarkable incident to any observer.

Due to the unusually warm weather, you were clad in a

mesh tee-shirt and the shortest denim cut-offs I had ever seen, and

your smooth legs and shapely feet eagerly bare to my gaze.

Our conversation moved through weather, horror movies; then turned---

despite the haunted societal inhibitions hovering around to stultify

us---the changes we had already noticed in our bodies.  Both of

us had passed our thirteenth birthdays the previous month, just

nine days apart.  But we---who had always spoken of so much

(considering our relative immaturity) on those Saturday afternoons

while we awaited the local UHF broadcast of Shock Theater---

seemed unable to speak of anatomical detail, a hesitancy instilled,

perhaps, by parental prejudices and the local school board's

recoil from all that it deemed purient.  So, we began to discuss the

current "teen idol," to whom I refer to here by the letters Delta

Kappa.  Both of us had taken to purchasing---and I mean

surreptitiously---purchasing those sort of magazines which most of

our peers, and all of our elders, considered to be appropriate only

for adolescent girls.  You asked me what I thought of this month's

photography of him, of Delta Kappa---clad in those baggy bell-bottoms;

his long hair wild around his beautiful face; shirtless and barefoot . . . .

Suddenly our words just failed; and my first desire for another's flesh

presented itself to me, bestirred by your beauty, far more real and

immediate, far more tangible, than Delta Kappa's (no matter how skilled and

cunning the camera had been used to depict him).  At that moment, and

lacking most of the words to articulate this very unfamiliar emotion,

I wanted to touch you, to embrace you, to be consumed by your pleasure; to

join you on that as yet unknown plane of existence, the dimensions that

admit only the adept to the realm of this most exquisite love, wherein (and

only wherein) our souls could enter each other, intact and intimate at once.



Author's Notes/Comments: 

Today is Tommy's birthday.  The event described in the poem took place on a Monday evening, just at dusk, in July, 1971.  Although it led to many similar encounters between that year and August, 1975, all of our moments were surreptitious---forbidden by the social restrictions of that time and place.  I have never been able to articulate the experience as a part of my personal history until now.  I hope this will also help someone else who, perhaps unduly inhibited, is struggling with the same discomfort.

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patriciajj's picture

A tender and evocative

A tender and evocative awakening that strikes so many chords of emotion through the simplicity (actually quite complex in its significance) of language, a perfectly set stage that brings an era to life, and the delicate, yet stirring depiction of an unforgettable encounter. 


Unaware, yet wise beyond your years, you had no idea of the adventure of living you were about to embark on or the beautiful, beautiful window you would one day paint of that moment with your gift for words. 



Starward's picture

Thank you for the very kind

Thank you for the very kind and understanding compliment.  That I have remained silent about that particular moment for all these decades until now is a very poor testimony both to the immense prejudice that then surrounded us, and my own personal cowardice.  Yet, out of this murkiness to which I gave way---and before which I crumbled like the sandpile I was---emerges this poem that you have understood so well, and to which you have given such superlative remarks.  When I put a moment, such as this long past one, into a poem, that poem is helped immeasurably by your understanding and comments.  Thank you so much for reading the poem and commenting upon it.  My resolve to write more is strengthened by your kindness.


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patriciajj's picture

You were never a sandpile,

You were never a sandpile, but a castle in the making. I can't be more pleased that you're motivated to write more. 

Starward's picture

Thank you so very much!!!

Thank you so very much!!!


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