"Visit" by James Benger

It was a weird time for me.

I just wanted her to know 

I was okay,

even if I wasn’t.

Maybe I was just young,

having fun, and a bit

unable to compartmentalize.


Long day in the factory,

even for my twenty-two-year-old self.

Australians handed over a 

bottle of the highest-end rum

'cause we loaded their truck.

I sat on the hood of a 

rusted-out Grand Prix

taking shots of sweet brown liquor

from a Dixie cup snatched from the

water fountain inside with the dude

who once bought me a killer pipe

from some headshop in Oklahoma.

I knew I had things to do,

knew it was a bad idea,

but we killed the bottle all the same.

When we were somewhere 

towards the bottom,

shift manager came out,

headed for his truck;

finally end of his day.

We offered him what was left in the bottle.

He shook his head the way you do

at a kid who is just too stupid

to be mad at,

mumbled something like,

“Fucking kids,"
as he peeled out of the parking lot.


I knew it was a bad idea,

but I had things to do,

so I hopped in my 

bargain Korean car,

weaved up 35 to my apartment.

Got home, wonder of the world,

the key turned without help from

the tube of graphite in my pocket.


Mad dash to clean up,

ordering pizzas,

what was left in the one-hitter

to calm me down.

That wasn’t enough,

but the water glass of

Carlo Rossi did what a

breath of skagg couldn’t.


Grandma showed up on the dot.

I just wanted her to know

I was doing okay;

she didn’t need to worry about me.

The apartment probably reeked of

stale weed and staler wine,

but she didn’t say a thing.

We sat on my Good Will couch,

ate discount pizza,

drank store-brand pineapple soda

from two-liter bottles,

watched a beyond-fuzzy version

of some family-friendly movie,

'cause it was a basement apartment,

and I couldn’t afford 

rabbit ears for the TV.

At the end of the night,

she thanked me for my hospitality,

shuffled off into the night.


I just wanted her to know I was okay;

she didn’t need to worry about me.