Friday 17 March 2023

Three Poems by Wayne F. Burke


Speed Racer


Outside, the snow falls

thick as fleece and

I am kneeling in the

snow, again.

At the summit of the hill

at the top of our street.


Jigs Garibaldi eats snow

from his mittened hand.

His red face is flushed, ice

balls like ornaments off of

a christmas tree hang from

his toque.


We watch the approach, up

hill, of flat-footed Denny Larson

a flabby mama's boy,

pulling a sled behind him.


"You are not using that, are you?"

Jigs says in disbelief.


"YES I am using it," Denny crabs.


Snowflakes big as leaves fall from the

grey sky.


Denny lies belly-down.


"Wait!" Jigs says, looking to the

right down-slope. "Where is Sondrini?"


Our 'look-out' is nowhere in sight.


Denny, at the lip of the hill, hollers

"get out of the way!"


The sled starts down, just as

a car comes into view, moving

along the snow-covered road.




The sled moves like a bullet downhill

and Denny and sled disappear beneath the


The car's right rear goes up

then down.

Denny lies on the roadside

atop his sled...


"Speak to us Denny!" Weed Garibaldi begs.


Eyes closed, face white; a line of

dark blood from the corner of his mouth

to his chin.


Spike, Skully, and Weed stand gawking.


"I never even seen him" says the

teenage driver, his jacket red & white

with the school colours.


"Call an ambulance," Jigs screams.


A door in the Carnazola's block opens

and shuts with a bang.

Refrigerator-sized Mrs. Carnazola, wearing a house-dress and

flip-flops, throws

her hands up:

"Oh my God! His poor mother!"


A cop car ambles down the 

road, moving slow as molasses.

The car's red light cuts through

gathering darkness.


An ambulance sounds, far off

in the distance.


"Give him room!" the cop says.


I walk away, down our street

through the snow

falling thick as fleece.


Mrs. Larson, Denny's mother, suddenly

emerges, a shawl over her


kerchief on her head.


I do not know what to say or do.


She skates past me, unbuckled galoshes

on her feet




Piss Test


The nurse wearing a starched white

uniform says

"come with me," and

I follow her

down a long corridor to

a small bathroom.


"Stand there," she says, pointing

to a spot by the door.


I stand still--to show her

how good and obedient

a boy I am.


She turns from a cabinet and

places a small plastic cup

on top of the tank of the toilet

in the corner.


"You see that cup?

I want you to make number one

in the cup. Do you understand?"

I nod and she leaves.


I look at the cup:

so far away.

Why? How am I to--

it is a test, I think.

To see how far, how accurate--

I take my bibet out and aim:

pee splatters on the face of the

toilet. I zero-in and loop some of the

stream into the cup.


I zip up, proud of myself

and wondering how other kids do

on the test.


A rap on the door and

the nurse enters.

She stares at the toilet:

"What have you done?" she screeches.


She begins pulling paper towels from the

dispenser as if

yanking hair


my head.





In grade school I hung around

older guys of the



One day Chief Larson, a sixth-grader

( I was in third) asked me if I knew

how babies are made.


It was a summer afternoon.

We stood in the Garibaldi's driveway:

Jackie Garibaldi swung a baseball bat;

Davy Baguette threw a jack-knife, sticking

it into the lawn.


"From prolonged kissing," I said.


Chief, Davy, and Jackie he-hawed like



"It was your mother and father!" Chief hollered.

"You fuckin' nut!"

He made a hole with his index finger and

thumb and ran his other index finger

through it: "Like this!"


I ran, across the lawn and

across the road and into

my yard.

Laughter from across the street

hurt my ears.


Maybe their parents had done "it"

like Chief said--

and thinking about their parents, I could

believe it, but

my parents

would never have done

any such thing.

Wayne F. Burke's poetry has been widely published in print and online (including in LOTHLORIAN POETRY JOURNAL). His work was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2022, and Best of the Net 2021 and 2020. His most recently published book, HENRY MILLER, Spirit & Flesh, is published by He lives in Vermont.


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