Raymond Luczak

That 1 Jet Hockey Game

(listen to the poem, read by David Cummer)

todd you unexpectedly reappeared
at my house in ironwood
one december evening
a year after i was transferred back home
to ironwood catholic grade school
two hours drive away from you
teachers & parents had felt
i would be a real mainstreamed success
& closer to my family too
they didnt seem to care
how much work it took me
to lipread even with my hearing aids

but anyway there you stood
you were a bit taller
so was i but in those days
nobody was sending off warning bells
about the onset of puberty
you wore a button shirt
you met some of my siblings
who were watching tv
& my mom too
maybe you met my dad too
your divorced dad had relocated
back to ironwood so you were visiting him
he didnt live too far from my house
just over the hill actually
though i didnt know it at the time

so there you were with your impish smile
when we went downstairs to play jet hockey
i wanted to tell you about them boys
at my new school who had figured out
ways to make me cry so they could laugh
at my nasal voice missing consonants
& my earmolds standing out like buttons
waiting to be pressed only in my nightmares
i wanted to tell you how badly i missed you
each time i stood by the brick wall
watching them boys play nerf football
on the parking lot i wanted to tell you
how much i wanted to run away from home
& hide in your bedroom off royce road
so nobody but you would find me
i would be your ghost friend
alive but never dead
always looking out for you

instead we stood facing each other
on either side of the big jet hockey console
its blue & red markings printed
on the formica ice of a hockey rink
punctured with holes to let air rise
allowing the flapjack puck
to float across the sheen surface
as if an ufo zigzagging
we played the game so hard
with our round handsticks
the puck sometimes flew straight up
& hit the low ceiling above us
we laughed so hard it was as if
nothing between us had changed
& yet everything had
oh todd i lied about everything
cause i didnt want you to worry

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About the Author

Raymond Luczak is the author and editor of 23 books, including Flannelwood (Red Hen Press) and once upon a twin (Gallaudet University Press, forthcoming in February 2021). His work has appeared in Poetry, South Carolina Review, and elsewhere. A ten-time Pushcart Prize nominee, he lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.