Image by cote62 from Pixabay

Cousin Kevin’s Surprise Party

The festive stresses of yesteryear (a poem).

Jellyfish platter gelatin mold sweating
on colorized cookbook lettuce,
Telecaster clean through a tube amp
and a sizzle on the snare,
we’re talking pineapple upside down cake,
olive on a toothpick fancy –

She’s no Betty Crocker, our mother,
with her improbable raisins and time
to stab a ham with forty cloves –

Stop licking the eggbeater,
have a cucumber from the vinegar bowl,
a smear of braunschweiger on a saltine
if you’re that hungry, Ronald,
keep your fingers off the icing
and I’ll give you the wax paper –

Now we see Uncle Carl’s van
and Aunt Verneda with her cold chicken
mother told us not to eat,
a procession of Burlington Coat Factory
rustling mothball powder –

I told you to watch your sister, hissing
motherly anger has no memory,
she rubs Donna’s cheek red
with the same apron corner,
tatty over taffeta,
just finished wiping fly flecks
from the cut crystal licorice dish –

Christsakes child no wonder you’re so itchy
I toldja wear a thermal under that thing
you’re eight years old
can’t do anything with you –

Mother bustles, forgets, tries to hug
little Timothy Eugene getting so big
and Kevin with a shocking gold earring

Throw your coats on the bed
what a spread
are there cashews
my doctor said I can’t have cashews
can’t come soon enough
he leaves for basic training Tuesday –

We are sent outside
and cousin Kevin formidable and remote,
sharpens his pocket knife on the bias of his jeans,
collating his thumbprint ridges, dangerous,
as Timothy Eugene free to do as he pleases
drops gravel into Uncle Carl’s gas tank –

We’re called in, it’s time,
Ronald, bring the matchbox
let Carl do the honors –

The vibraphone song we like
best track on the record
clinks under our Gregorian incantation
Happy Birthday

The newly minted man
picking at maraschinos
prefers pie to cake, thanks,
and anywhere else to here –

Cousin Kevin suffers into his eighteenth year
with beads of meringue in his mustache.

Edie Meade is a poet, essayist, and literary fiction writer with a background in visual arts. Her topics include parenting, society, economics, science, and creativity. Subscribe to her weekly Author Newsletter for exclusive content, or connect on social media.

A compassionate and opinionated human being. | Fiction author and visual artist in Central Appalachia. | Give my newsletter a try:

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