2 June 2003 | Vol. 3, No. 2

Timeline, 1977

Woznik ran the corner grocery until he saw a roach,

aisle three, between Life and Froot Loops, and went mad.

He died that year. Starved himself to death.

Sarby took to the bottle and ran off with his brother's widow.

Eight years and three stillborns later she joined the circus.

Left that nice little town to shovel animal dung

and prance around in a sequin cape.

Retta's daughter (from her first client)

drowned when she rode her bike into the river.

Coroner said track marks along her good arm were to blame.

Probably saw God on the opposite bank.

A bicycle built for two.

Serge lied on his application at the bank.

Said he worked for Nasa until some rocket

fuel experiment went haywire and blew up.

Everyone called him Flash behind his back

and never looked him in the face.

Duhzil won at craps one night and never came home.

His mama held a funeral service—

invitation only—like he was dead or something.

The pregnant girl from the bowling alley sang off key.

I went back last year to talk to folks, get some answers,

like where Retta's daughter got money to buy that bike.

Whole end of town was gone, torched in '81.

Everyone was quiet but the ashes

and the cackle of flames two-steppin' with the sun.

About the author:

Shelly Reed writes in Norwalk, Iowa, where she enjoys regular silence. Her work appears extensively online and in print, nationally and internationally. Recent poems appear or are scheduled for appearance with Comrades, Sometimes City, Wilmington Blues, and 2River.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Shelly Reed at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 3, No. 2, where "Timeline, 1977" ran on June 2, 2003. List other work with these same labels: poetry, catalog.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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