When I think of Summer, I still think of lightning bugs. That is, they’re still the first thing that comes to mind, even before sunlight, summer vacation, the beach, ice cream trucks, etc. My first association remains that time of day, about 30 minutes before darkness sets in, when they would come out in full force and light up the yard like tiny, floating stars that would appear, disappear and appear once more. I loved capturing them as a kid, which was weird because, even now, I’m terrified of bugs. I despise them. They absolutely creep me out. There’s something dirty and spooky about them. And I’m not just talking about cockroaches and spiders. I don’t like ants, gnats, flies, beetles, potato bugs and the rest of the insect world. And yet even now lightning bugs don’t bother me, not one bit. There is something so absolutely not threatening about them. They remain mystical, I suppose. They make me nostalgic. They make me remember a time I had no idea I ever wanted to remember.
I don’t recall when I wrote “Drunk By Dusk,” but I’d wager it was in the last five years or so. I still don’t know that it’s “finished,” but it just felt appropriate for today. This one never saw a workshop, never got feedback of any kind. And, yes, there really was a Tony and Eddie, two neighbors who, as I boy, I loathed. To this day, their names haunt and irritate me. Weird, I know. Anyway, enjoy, and thanks, as always, for reading.
Drunk By Dusk, My Father Sets Me Free
So when given the chance to rip across
the back lawn into the yard
of my neighbor punks, Tony and Eddie,
whose mom died eight days after I met her,
I stormed for the jar of lightning bugs
stashed at the base of the great oak,
each time believing that if rattled
hard enough, their tiny bulbs might pop,
lit up like match heads flicked from a book.
Instead I watched their wings rendered useless,
pinballing body against body, lights
refusing to glow. I knew those yellow orbs
would never surface, all my hate funneled
into that rusted mason jar, capturing
not only the flying miracles of summer,
but my constant will to suck out
every bug-born volt, every last scrap of power.