Car Crash Youth
The kids in my town lived their youths out like car crashes.
We were teenagers and I was too innocent to understand
the grittiness of growing up. Back then,
I didn’t realize I was friends with three coke dealers.
They all hid it from me. Finding out, the weight
of it all nearly smothered me. My favorite
mechanic, the boy with unruly black curls;
I’d known Zachary Lachlan
since we were children. I dated another –
that one hardly counts. Then there was Greg Maddock,
who made me promise not to tell anyone
as we huddled in couches at my favorite coffeehouse.
He was the last to spill his illegal secret.
I was glad for the honesty but I cried
for days, mad at the people I loved
because I saw them hurting others, scared
their indiscretions might lead them into jail cells.
I wish I could say that everyone worked
the partying out of their systems, but you know
as well as I do that that’s not how it works.
Some people managed it, toned the craziness down
and started to play it a little safer
with their cars and their livers and everything else
that makes having a good time just a little bit
dangerous. But some people grow up and some don’t.
Some die at nineteen, at 2:13 in the morning on Old Shelby Road
when they’re driving a girl who isn’t their girlfriend home
and they don’t make the turn and instead wrap their truck
around a tree. A half-empty bottle of Jack shatters
on the floorboard. Whiskey puddles on worn floor mats as the sirens start to
This is all so cliché: rebellion, car crashes, teenagers playing
Russian roulette with their lives
because they’re young and invincible.
But it’s cliché because it happens. Teenagers die
being stupid, and the people who love them are left
picking their broken lives up off the bloody pavement.
It’s cliché because it’s real.
We ought to deal with that.