They spit tobacco juice in clear Mason jars
and smoked cigarette butts they found
smoldering on the cracked sidewalk.
They wore T-shirts with Budweiser logos
and old jeans stained with spaghetti sauce.
All learned to cuss early, the youngest
swearing through two missing front teeth
and a slight lisp. I watched them from
my Big Wheels perch, skinny legs stretched
in front of me, barely reaching the plastic pedals.
When they got too loud, my mother always
called me inside. She didn’t want me to see
how they drank Pepsi for breakfast or how they ate
left-over pizza and black licorice for lunch.
She didn’t want me to watch them playing
chicken on their bikes, riding head-on
into each other, yelling whenever one swerved
sideways into a cloud of flying gravel.
When they moved away, weeds cloaked
the front lawn overnight. The For Sale grew rusty.
For weeks, I looked for aluminum cans, ashes,
a bicycle spoke, anything that said they were once real.