Shirts or Skins, a 2014 poetry chapbook by Jim Redmond

An Old Friend Calls

An old friend calls.
I have nothing to say to him.

Across the street
a field sits in the absence
of blame. Stalks flit porcelain
in the shine of truck light:

thin as a child’s bare legs;

the string of a yo-yo gone slack
between sky and the damp,
done earth.

Back then it was the dignity
of being without

those hard thoughts—
the other boy

just lying there, I didn’t even
know his name, only
what they did to him

while I watched—
his body, a music box

pushed deep into storage,
wound tight, left closed.
The thought of it now

polished like a brand new car.
The one we drove to church in.

The one my grandfather said not to touch
after we got done plucking chickens.

The one my friend wonders about,
asking, how much?


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