"Rite of Passage"

A gigantic orange sun
Was being swallowed by the horizon
The women stole away
To sing lullabyes to little ones
Older children ran off
To the neon lit rides
And all of the men went to perch
The crude stools at the boardwalk clam bar
Dispatching to me an invitation to hang with them
It was the summer of my 15th year

The men were smoking cigarettes
Drinking bottled beers
Telling jokes and long stories
Man-speak uttered to man ears
A lit Camel was handed to me backhand
And they helped me steal a swig of beer
While the bartender's back was turned
Didn't even have to ask
Pats on my sunburned back
Their smiles and eye contact including me

They handed me a dripping wet plate
Full of juicy clams with lemon and tabasco
And basket of fried calamari
Apprehensively yet anxiously accepting
Fares reserved for adult palates
Never repeating any truth or lie told at the clam bar
Never mentioning the fun with the waitress
Recognizing all of this as a rite of passage
Quietly and unceremoniously relinquishing my boyhood
In exchange for manhood


2001 poetheart

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