Sunshine Court

by Judy Kaber
The Waters
First Place, May 2014
Judged by R.T. Castleberry

An apt name for the place we lived
only weeks before we were evicted,

where I spent time on my knees
scrubbing linoleum that never looked

clean, and you smoked a homemade
hookah, beads of laughter shining

in your beard. Landlady said her son
wanted to move in, but I think it was

because of mountainous clothes, thin
mattress on the floor, bottles of beer,

cheap wine, gin. Clear we were high
in the hereafter. Socked on weed, not

caring a damn thing. Even on packing
day, we dropped acid and that’s how

I wound up clutching the tool box on
the back of the Honda, air blowing

through my brain, not even seeing that
this day, this day, this day was on slow repeat.

Who doesn’t look back with amazed affection at the dangerous lover you never should have kissed, the lunatic drive you shouldn’t have survived, the life you lived at 20--when you look back at it at 40? Sunshine Court nails down the details—squalid, funny, crazed, of life on the blue collar edge, just as fun becomes danger and experimentation an addiction. Depictions of lower middle class life are rare in contemporary poetry and so it’s particularly gratifying to see someone who doesn’t either romanticize the territory or judge the characters. This poem is a vivid portrait of young people enjoying a ragged, adventurous game. --R.T. Castleberry