National Poetry Month: Hit or Miss by Jessica Rich

Hit or Miss 

By Jessica Rich 

(For Richard Finney, 2009) 


We are always hit or miss, you and me.  

Hot and cold. 

Sometimes we talk for hours, discuss philosophy, 

music, art. 

Laughter filled our mouths as quickly  

as your whiskey glass emptied. 

Other times, 

most times, 

conversation was a shy child 

in the company of too-friendly adults- 

silent and awkward. 


As I lift you into the passenger side of the truck 

and take my turn in the driver’s seat 

I can tell this is going to be one of those awkward times. 

It’s going to be rough. 

I consider putting your cowboy hat 

on top of the box that holds your ashes 

but I’m not quite cool enough to pull that off. 


I want to be slick enough to talk to you 

as I drive us home, 

to make wisecracks and reminisce. 

Instead I stare straight ahead, 

ignore the coffee stains in the cup holders. 

The cracked rubber bands swaying from the turn signal. 

Your sunglasses on the dash. 

I fight the smell of stale smoke blasting 

from dusty vents and hope that for once 

you were wrong, 

that you are somewhere, something  

other than ash.