Kool Aid Mustache

Floating Ladders4
By Kevin Ridgeway

My playmates were dressed
like miniature bar flies
as we played hide and go seek
in the rubble of a collapsed cinder block wall
littered with broken chemistry sets
and shards of rotgut wine bottles
the blocks once help fortify this burned-out
property when they were a meth lab
but now the ruins were our playground
I hid beneath a stack of discarded egg cartons
my Velcro shoes sticking out
in a budding clown’s cry for help
I was found in an instant and tagged “it”
by the girl with the runny nose
and the Kool Aid mustache
I counted to ten and spent an eternity
searching for these old pros
and gave up
retiring to the safety
behind the screen door
in the darkness of electric summer fans
dragging my soles across the carpet that
led to the console of television
and I fixed a stiff one
sitting in the serenity of my post-toddler
command center,
I sipped my sugared concoction and
grew a Kool Aid mustache
of my own.

(Originally appeared in The Orange Room Review; also appears in his chapbook All the Rage)

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