.07) Questions, Looking Back Poem by Max Reif

Max Reif


.07) Questions, Looking Back

Rating: 4.3

Why did we do all that? What were we looking for
When we stood conspicuously outside our cars on summer nights
In our madras shirts, white levis and loafers without socks
Along the parking diagonals in the median lane of Balson
In front of the high school that indentured us most of the year?

Why did we drive in my convertible chasing endless rumors of girls
Or midnight idylls in forbidden swimming pools that lapped in affluent backyards,
Air conditioners humming like the breath of their sleeping owners?

Why did I hate the Marquees who appeared to have real girls and newer cars
And to strut, not walk, in the eternal parade through our daytime high school halls?

Why did the world wait to come alive until it had drowned in Night
And only our headlights could show us the way?

Why did I feel my blood beating, suddenly, an inclusive rhythm
The night that gang of paroled convicts who called themselves the '69ers'
Came out of hell with chains to beat people up, and a guy
From our football team whose name I can’t remember now
Screamed “Lemme at ‘em! ” and dove into their open car window,

Or the night—this was before we were even old enough to drive—
When muscular, blonde Huns, no more than 18, but looking huge to us,
Came screaming out of nowhere as we talked and strolled
Through Heman Park at 3 AM, chasing us as we ran for our lives
A block beyond the other side of the park, all the way up
To Stanley’s front porch, where we woke his dad,

Or in those forbidden, backyard swimming pools when a light went on in the house and we had to flee,
And someone always did a last cannonball to roil the water?

What combination of deadened lives and genuine yearnings
Twisted around one another to open those gates of Night,
And where can I find such unlimited pastures today?

Alison Cassidy 14 July 2006

Max, I suspect it had something to do with testerone and youthful bravado. But thank God for it! Your poems are so interesting and readable and they flow. Your memories bring back my memories. The outside light being switched on reminds me of Saturday night 'dates' when my father would interrupt enthusiastic sexual fumblings in the front seat and instigate a hasty and embarrassed goodbye. I particularly love the rather rueful last three lines. love, Allie

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Linda Ori 17 March 2006

Madras shirts and white Levis - geeze, what a flashback to the good ole' days! I guess the guys dressed the same no matter where you grew up in the 60's. Thanks for the trip back in time - those were the days. Linda

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Amberlee Carter 05 August 2005

beautiful ending to a beautiful poem...I'm at a loss for words..sorry

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Philippa Lane 04 August 2005

This is certainly an excursion down Memory Lane. I love the poem itself, the way you wrote it, it flows so nicely. I also found it quite fascinating to have a window into your life all those many years ago...I was in an English boarding school run by blue-stockinged nuns when you were out in the real world exploring - my life rather tame by comparison. My night life consisted of making a tent in my bed and reading books after lights out, and having the occasional midnight feast! I do think this is a really good poem.

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Herbert Nehrlich1 23 July 2005

Max, of course this poem was written more for yourself than for others. It's part of our sanity maintenance mechanism. Even better when, as this one does, it strikes something in me, it keeps me interested, not mildly, there is substance, life in them there lines....... H

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Max Reif

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