The Kids I Grew Up With

There was tiny Kal,
left eye made of glass
It was poorly taken care of
and his eyelid sagged
halfway over his yellowish,
unmoving orb
like an allergic itch

Kalís dad was our soccer coach
The Ghostbusters we were named
He would stall out his small truck
at every red light
trying to conserve gasoline

One afternoon Kal and I
found his dadís BB gun in the garage
Kal shot at the antique orange
Karmann ghia and we laughed,
listening to the pellets ricochet
off jarred tomatoes and clink against
fridge, freezer and toolbox until
one projectile whizzed past my ear
and glanced off Kalís shoulder
I spooked and ran away but Kal, he just
giggled and kept cocking the hammer
and firing- a pinball game with ammo

I never did ask him
how he lost that left eye

I wrestled with Anton
He was a well-built black kid,
limber, large and strong
His father was an intense fan
and yelled a lot from the stands
One afternoon after practice
Anton was home alone and
found his fatherís .22 pistol
He loaded one bullet in the chamber
and though he seemed stable enough
for your typical lost teenager,
Anton decided to play Russian Roulette

Just one shot

The hot lead pierced his left temple,
recoiled around his skull
and erupted out his right cheek,
leaving the boy a bloodied mess
Deliriously, with two seeping wounds,
entry and exit,
Anton ably dialed 911 and was rushed
to a trauma center
His only lasting injury:
permanent blindness in his left eye

Despite the disability,
Anton went on to become a
premier multi-sport athlete
He majored in communications,
speaking motivationally around the
country for at-risk, suicidal teens

I have both my eyes
But one to none is required
to truly see

Victoriaís Secret

my inked-on eyebrows
and mannequin skin
lies solitary
my prefabricated soul

Superficially adorned

Frills and lace
Expensive bras
Colorful panties

Displayed for humans
who eyeball
my emptiness

seeing me as more
than themselves

Joe Amaral is a paramedic who spends most of his time spelunking around the central coast of California. His poetry and short stories have appeared in many literary journals and print anthologies, includingA Handful of Dust, amphibi.us, Carcinogenic Poetry, Certain Circuits, Eclectic Flash, RED OCHRE LiT, and Underground Voices. He has work forthcoming internationally via Decanto Magazine, Litro, and Taj Mahal Review.

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