Heavy Metal
by Jimmie Cumbie

Night drives to the lakefront,
just Tommy and me. Parked
before the breaker stones
we’d spark a bowl of dope

and find a limestone chair,
our hands paint-thinner raw,
our noses plugged with dust.
Tommy would pick for lake glass

and unwilling to ease up,
I’d down beer after beer,
watch the lake pitch and glare,
columns of shattered moon

buckling in whitened waves
as I waited for the glass eye
of the lighthouse down-shore
to come around again.

Spotting its metallic beam
from above the far bluffs
just as its light swept out
glinting for the ore boats,

I’d blurt something from
Fitzgerald or Hart Crane—
‘O emerald dock light,
O fabulous shadows,

I want to drown with you.’
Blitzed, Tommy would
climb down to crank Iron Man
as loud as it would go.


Tommy’s car always smelled of paint—
enamels, lacquers, clears,
old gallons of Dodge Blue
and Candy Apple Red

sloshing from carelessly
sealed DuPont cans.
I cradled the last beer,
told him I’d be leaving

for school in September.
Peeling glue from his hands,
he smirked vacantly
out the window before

rolling it down to spit.
I leaned against the rails
of my parents’ front porch—
crushed. Night-black

mulberries inked the steps.
Next door, Ricky’s unplugged
work-light hung from the hood
of his terminal Dart.

I waited for the sound
of the downshift I knew
Tommy would make at Green.
When he took the corner

his tires let out a yelp
as the all-night air-hammer
from the yards of Walker Forge
hissed before hurtling down.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 16, Issue 3.

placesaverJimmie Cumbie received his undergraduate degree in Theater & Drama from the University of Wisconsin, and an MFA in Poetry from Bennington College, where he was awarded the Liam Rector scholarship in poetry.

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