“After the Bowling Stopped” by Thadra Sheridan

Thadra Sheridan


Last night,
this guy played guitar on stage,
and it made me think of you, because
you play guitar on stage.
So I spent the next fifteen minutes
running a mental slide show.

You gave me half of your egg salad sandwich.
You grab me, because
the smell of gasoline on my fingers
turns you on.
We play Ferris Bueller and
follow a kids’ tour group
at the Institute of Arts.
You bowl five strikes in a row.

Etcetera, etcetera …
I find this still happens a lot.
Someone’s wearing shoes, so
I think of you, because
you wear shoes.
You drink beverages.
You can see how this might be a problem.
Sometimes I just
blurt your name out loud in my apartment
for no reason
like a Tourette’s outburst,
and I’m supposed to write this
poem about you,
because I keep saying I’m a poet.
And I’ve been trying
for the three years since you stopped
bowling in my presence, but it keeps coming out like,

I hate you, I hate you
I wish I’d never agreed to
date you.
The day you left,
the sun set for the last time,
the trees wilted,
and happy little creatures ceased to scurry.
My heart
is a block of frozen, solid, petrified, cold, really hard ice
without you.
I don’t need you.
Never did.

Oh, I can write volumes
about every little
I’ve tried to replace you, but
You’re drying up the ink in
all my favorite pens.
You’re hiding all my journals and
shorting out my keyboard.
You are the quintessential cock block,
if I had a cock.
You are the ultimate writer’s block, if …
No, wait, that one works.
The point is,
I know you can eat a whole egg salad sandwich,
but I appreciate the gesture.
And that stretch of 90/94
from Chicago to Rockford has
never been the same
since I drove it home from the end of time.
And when you stayed over this past spring,
you slept on the couch,
took a shower,
and left.
But it took me three days
to take your towel out of the bathroom
and five more to wash it.
I find I can’t really write about something
until I have a little
distance perspective, but you’re still
mashed up against me like a Siamese twin.
And the kicker is
I can’t even say I want you back.
You were all shades of fiasco.
I was only on your mind if I was
waving my arms in front of you.
And having sex with you?!?
I suspect you wouldn’t have known the difference
if I had been inflatable.
And you only gave me the sandwich because you were
So if you asked,
would I take you back?
Yeah I totally would.
And that pisses me off.
But if I was with you right now, I’d be
sitting in some hotel in New York,
getting my ass kicked at Scrabble, or
pitching a makeshift baseball game in
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
And my debt would be twice as ridiculous.
And I’d weigh a hundred pounds, because
you supplement eating and sleeping and
not in any good way.
But I wouldn’t be here.
I wouldn’t be
running my stupid life.
You are the rockstar me I’m
too impatient to wait for.
And you’ve got nothing to do with anything.
Most of my friends don’t even know what you look like.
So you’re all mine.
And a terrible kisser
and a really sore loser.
And I suspect you’ll
litter my life with
unfinished pages about the
empty spaces you
left in my apartment
for years to come.
And tonight,
when someone asks to borrow a guitar pick,
or uses the words,
I’ll think of you;
snapshot something somewhere
away from here and today.
Not much I can really do about that, just
thought I’d mention it, because
it was on my mind.

from Rattle #27, Summer 2007
Tribute to Slam Poetry


Thadra Sheridan: “I have written poetry since I was eight years old. It rhymed back then. As I moved into adolescence it got really sappy and boy-centric. In college I saw a folk singer at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. His lyrics were funny and blunt and so brutally honest, I was amazed that he said such things out loud. The impression he made on me was incredibly strong. I thought, I could be that honest. I want to affect people that deeply. I write because I believe none of us are alone or all that different. And when we see ourselves in the thoughts and experiences of others, we realize that. So I tell my story.” (web)

Rattle Logo