Dark Times ~ By Jacinta Camacho Kaplan

Open the heavy door
of neighborhood bowling alley,
no one’s there. Dark.
The Big Dipper requires sunglasses on a normal night.
I get my own shoes
and ball as if I own
the place and all the rules have changed.
At the snack bar, I pour
myself a lukewarm bottle
of Coke, grab a bag of potato chips, wait for the lights
to switch on while I learn patience; bears hibernate
in summer and tulips bloom
in January in North Dakota.
Knock on tavern door a block over. Sign says OPEN, 
but chairs are upside down on
tables, no bartender, no lies or exaggerations, 
no swagger, smoke, or temptation. The town’s devils 
have been evicted or found a better planet to corrupt.

Stand like a statue in the middle of the road, each 
corner empty of strollers,
skateboards, bikes and people on porches, 
no cars in driveways, no taxis to run me
over, no one to give me 
the finger with abandon— I miss that person.

The grocery store follows protocol to buy toilet paper, 
milk and bread. I load the ’72 Volvo wagon with hand sanitizer, 
disinfectant, bleach, and a new chest freezer. But the children 
are middle-aged; they buy their own supplies.

Angst like scratchy linen sheets rubs against raw skin 
like grief tumbling down a rocky hill, there before you realize its name. 
In the movies, they grab a bottle of booze and smoke when they worry,
I stuff cheap chocolates
and rocky road ice
cream down my gullet.

Jacinta Camacho Kaplan has written poems and plays since she learned to read. A retired architect/ restaranteur, she planned to publish her first chapbook called ‘Mooning Everything” in 1995. Jacinta still cannot copy and paste, but she cut her own bangs during lockdown—scissored a W for writer.

November Editor, Ronda Miller was State President of Kansas Authors Club, 2018 – 2019, Miller has three full length books of poetry: Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain and WaterSigns and chapbook Winds of Time. Miller’s first children’s book, I Love the Child, was published 12/13/2019. The book’s illustrator is Katie Wiggins, a found cousin. I Love the Child, won first place for The Children’s Books Award at the Kansas Authors Club State convention, October, 2020.

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