Casey Killingsworth’s poems have been published in Kimera, Timberline Review, and other journals. He has also released a book of poems, A Handbook for Water, (Cranberry Press, 1995) as well as a book on the poetry of Langston Hughes, The Black and Blue Collar Blues (VDM, 2008). He graduated from Reed College.
I remember the
contestants in the princess
pageants at school
and the heavier
and the stringy-haired
girls in their back row
smiling over the crowd but
really dreaming about almost-
boyfriends until it hurt
in their sleep, young
women whose beautiful
round faces had been
stripped to only a phrase
that whispered they would not,
ever, be chosen, understanding
what the audience pretended
not to know until the
envelope was opened.
I’ve never been to a Tony Robbins’
revival, but I know how those
participants must feel. Once,
Tony came to me as my ex-wife.
She was inspirational at telling me
how to live my life better, to recognize
what the world wanted me to have,
how to be--here it comes--successful.
Sometimes I could even hear the
Robbins’ cheerleaders cheering me on:
come on, they said in the background
of this poem, you can do it. All I had
to do was sign up for the program and
my successes would have to follow.
Except when you leave the packed
auditorium and it gets all quiet,
maybe late at night on your front porch
maybe in a small town and nobody’s
there to cheer you on, even Tony,
who has left for another tour, then you
start to see that when you signed up
it’s Tony who is getting successful
and you end up back at your day job,
alone, wondering what the hell
Two friends in Bend
For whatever reason my two childhood
friends ended up in Bend, a place
I have never lived. One just retired
from being some bigshot in some
big company and the other is there
because that’s where they place people
who no longer remember their names.
Sometimes I go and visit them,
the one to remember the old times,
and the other to remember the old times.
The workers at The Lodge
treat me like a guest when
they see me running
around the golf course.
I wonder how they
would react if they knew
I just sneak in to run
the trails, or worse
I’m just a worker like them.
I want to tell them
hey I work graveyard
and my boss is a piece of shit too,
but sometimes I like
being treated like I’m
a gold club member or maybe
I’m just tired of the looks
I get because of my car
or maybe just tired of how no
money defines me. I tell my
wife poor people don’t envy
rich people; they just
want their Porsches. The Lodge
workers never get called
by their last names and the jobs
they do don’t have last names
and we say we’re sick of them
not smiling when they greet
us at the big fat front door.