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Small Town Roller Rink

By Higgins, Frank | The Midwest Quarterly, Summer 1999 | Go to article overview

Small Town Roller Rink


Higgins, Frank, The Midwest Quarterly


   The farm boys drive up in droves    to the Diamond Roller Rink    where town girls are decked out in tight jeans,    long-legged and pink.     The girls giggle or blush    and sometimes play crack-the-whip    to fling a friend at a chosen one    so he can pick her up by the hips.     The farmboys gape or look mean,    or tell jokes from the sideline,    or buy Cokes and play pinball,    or smoke to pass the time.     The girls do what they can,    stop for a breather at a railing to prove    they're approachable and nice    but the farm boys can't move.     Their legs are like stumps;    they can't stand on wheels or dance;    they've got dimples and personality,    but they haven't got a chance,     while the town boys, sunken chested and slouchy,    whip out figure 8's and grandstand    and gather all the girls    into their soft little hands.     The farm boys head home,    maybe still tell jokes,    but jokes about how they smell    like sweat, and manure, and oats. 

Frank Higgins has published two books of poetry, Starting From Ellis Island (BkMk Press) and Eating Blowfish (Raindust Press). His poems have appeared in Kansas Quarterly, New Letters', and Chariton Review, among other journals. He has also published two plays. He received grants from the Missouri Arts Council in 1986, 1990, and 1994. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri.

Before the days of satellite dishes and cable TV, I used to teach creative writing workshops out on the Great Plains of western Kansas. To the young people of places like Norton and Wakeeney, who lived hours away from "happening places" such as Hays or Dodge City, a visiting poet was as strange as a visiting Martian-in-the-Schools.

Time after time I found many contemporary poems bombed with the students and adults on the Great Plains, as through the poems were written in Martian not English.

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