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Saturday, September 01, 2018


by Crystal Stone

like my summer school algebra students in the delta told me
I remind them of a brunette white girl in a Lifetime movie
that gets murdered. But she—the movie character—is dead
and I’m still in the classroom being somebody’s teacher
and ArethaPatti lives on if Patti inherits Aretha’s soul.
And that’s what everyone wants—like the ex-boyfriend
I literally forgot I fucked, or maybe loved, until he showed up
at my roller derby game a year after we stopped talking—
he learned Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” daydreamed I’d remember him
when I looked in the face of someone new. Fox News wanted that, too.
ArethaPatti isn’t dead. ArethaPatti can sing the National Anthem
at the next superbowl. ArethaPatti can Memphis the country
blues. ArethaPatti can steal the banjo from my tone-deaf dad and union
the coal miners fans. The drunk man who played checkers with me
on the corner of Main and Kellogg won’t ask if I’d like to stop
the game because I’m losing. Of course I don’t. We’re all losing,
even the winners. The ex-boyfriend is gone. I never notice
his face in the new faces. I just see the new man, his blue eyes, always
equally memorable when he leaves. And we don’t see young Aretha
in the corner, but Patti, and the subject of the headline is not about either of them,
anyway, like this poem isn’t about Fox News, or Aretha, or ArethaPatti,
or the summer school students in the delta, or the ex-boyfriends I forgot
despite how much I thought I loved them, or Tracy Chapman’s fast car,
or the man I played checkers with, or the fact that I lost to a man
who believed in love, but isn’t it funny how much they all have in common?

Crystal Stone writes most of her poetry roller skating at the park. Her favorite tea is jasmine or medicinal throat-coat; she's unsure. Her poetry has appeared in many journals, but she's most proud of her TEDx talk, "The Transformative Power of Poetry." Her first collection of poetry Knock-off Monarch is forthcoming from Dawn Valley Press this fall.