Deni Naffziger was raised in Ohio’s Appalachian Steel Valley but has lived in Athens, Ohio for many years. Her work has appeared in New Ohio Review, Atticus Review, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Pikeville Review, Pudding Magazine, Northern Appalachian Review, Asylum Magazine and elsewhere. Her first book of poems, Desire to Stay, was published in 2014. Her second book, Strange Bodies, will be published by Shadelandhouse Modern Press in 2023.
He smoked Pall Malls with abandon,
a bottle of Jim Beam cinched between
his thighs, Dean Martin on the radio
singing to the five of us
little kids in the back seat. So what?
So he bought us all fast food, crumpled
the empty bags and tossed them out the window
like what he’d rather forget, then told us
to toss ours too, and we all lined up on our knees,
looked out the wide expanse of rear-view window,
watched wads of garbage flit like orchids.
Sometimes we fought like dogs, and he paid us
to count yellow school buses in July to shut us up.
We were young. He was too, in a reckless age,
and eventually those empty bags,
all those cigarette butts that tumbled
from the ashtray along the outside
of his green Fleetwood, Jim Beam turned upside down,
smashed on the pavement and sparkling like fairy dust
were miles and miles behind us.