We went downtown on a lark. A meadowlark. A western meadowlark. My friends all wanted to drink ale but I told them I would die. I was waiting for the bartender to bring me hot black tea when a woman in a skirt sat on my lap. I pointed at the baseball game on TV and she laughed as though at something I hadn’t heard. When it was time to smoke cigarettes I joined my friends on the filthy balcony. They scoffed when I remarked on the structure’s unstable scaffolding. After the accident, the woman in the skirt joined me in the ambulance, and we shared an emergency blanket. She showed me a tattoo of our state bird on the inside of her thigh. If we had wings like this bird, your friends wouldn’t have died. I don’t have any friends in this city. A western meadowlark.
Alex Tretbar won the 2022 PEN America Prison Writing Contest in Poetry, and his manuscript Kansas City Gothic was selected as a finalist for the 2023 Wolfson Press Poetry Chapbook Competition. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Colorado Review, Meridian, SAND, Poetry Northwest, Iterant, Bat City Review, Southeast Review, Full Stop, and elsewhere. As a Writers for Readers Fellow with the Kansas City Public Library, he teaches free writing classes to the community and assists with the Maya Angelou Book Award. He is an MFA candidate at the University of Missouri Kansas City.