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Kevin Ridgeway

Kevin Ridgeway is the author of Too Young to Know (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019) and Invasion of the Shadow People (forthcoming, Luchador Press, 2022). His work has appeared in Slipstream, Chiron Review. Nerve Cowboy, Main Street Rag, San Pedro River Review, Trailer Park Quarterly, The Cape Rock, Plainsongs, Into the Void, Book of Matches, Cultural Daily and The American Journal of Poetry, among others. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, he lives and writes in Long Beach, CA.


The only kinds of cars
I am interested in are
the kind my father drove
when I was growing up:
an El Camino he bought from
my step granddad when he got out
on parole. The huge, unwieldy
maroon Ford Ranchero my mother
purchased for him the second time
he got out on parole. The Cadillac
he hotwired and picked me up
in at the airport when I was coming
to visit from college. Even the shitbox
Honda Civic we did drugs together in
when I was having marital struggles
and so was he. He told me his life story
in those cars and I hung onto every word
even though he was a dangerous criminal.
I felt safe with him, because he
convinced me he would kill for me
as I sat there in the front passengers’
seats of all those cars that were
eventually used to commit crimes,
the last of which will keep him in jail
for the rest of his life. I see an
El Camino every once in a while
and I look to see if it’s him out
on parole again, coming to pick me
up from school, but school is out
and my father is a voice on the phone,
driven away from me forever in
a phantom car without license plates.

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