EVERY BAD THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME
HAPPENED WHEN I WAS DRUNK
That’s what I’ll say in retrospect.
But right now, I’m 14 and three beers into
a stolen six-pack, kissing Teddy Briscoe,
whose tongue trembles and tumbles
after mine, whose saliva is sweet, and who
pauses a moment to take off his glasses
and bed them in the warm grass beside us.
Music from the firehouse Teen Hop
echoes across the lake, and while we kiss,
the moon saunters silently across the sky.
For the first time in my life, I felt normal.
That’s what I’ll say, what we all say,
giving a speech at the AA celebration
held to honor a year of sobriety.
But for now, it’s truth with a capital T,
and the awakening Reward-o-Meter
in my brain is setting off alarms,
red lights, bells, applause.
When my father picks me up at the firehouse
hours later, he asks if I stayed out of trouble.
I want to tell him the truth.
I want to describe the feeling of tumblers
falling into place in a safe door,
of rockets released at last from
gravity’s dark hold.
The Poet Laureate of Ridgefield, Connecticut, B. Fulton Jennes serves as an educator and poet-in-residence for the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, where she develops poetry programming and special events. As a public school English teacher, she introduced thousands of students to spoken-word poetry and slam competitions. Her poems have or will appear in The Comstock Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Tar River Poetry, Connecticut Literary Anthology 2020, The Naugatuck River Review, Stone Canoe, and other publications. Her chapbook Blinded Birds is forthcoming in 2022.