“That Summer” by George Ovitt

George Ovitt


That summer we shared a motorcycle
and a girlfriend and drank your pop’s 
booze and stayed out all night on the beach.

You had a mean streak and a bad temper—
you might still, wherever you are; nobody
liked your foul mouth or the way you sneered,

as if the world had done something awful, 
which it had, but not to you, not at sixteen.
Your brother was worse, Eddie the Creep, 

a cheap punk who spit on my father’s roses—
Christ, I thought my old man would kill him, 
but he was scared of Eddie, “that psycho.”

And your mother was a floozy, 
“cheap,” though she drove a Cadillac 
and wore high heels to the A&P;

you’ll remember when she kissed me
right on the mouth, stuck her tongue 
in my ear and her hand … forget it.

And your father, the judge, a crook, 
on the take, a fat man in seersucker
who swilled screwdrivers at breakfast,

and kept a lady friend installed at the 
Shore Motel, Room Six, top floor, too
close to the highway, remember? 

You’d fight with the judge over Mom, 
sticking up for your mother, loyalty
being your only virtue. Otherwise, 

I’m sorry to say it, you were a loser.
But on a day like today—hot and dusty—
a miserable day good for nothing at all,
it’s you I remember, and no one else. 

from Rattle #56, Summer 2017


George Ovitt: “Though I am today the most boring person in the world, way back in 1964, aged sixteen, I ran with a wild crowd of cut-purses, scalawags, and ne’er-do-wells. The leader of our gang was a reprehensible character who is now probably dead or in jail—or both. This summer I took some time off from writing boring poems to commemorate my shady past. The truth is, poetry, mine anyway, invites this kind of Walter Mitty daydream. Writing a poem, I give myself leave to remember, to revel in, what I’d never allow myself to think about otherwise.”

Rattle Logo