Playboys in the Basement

Last week’s poem was somewhat serious, so I am lightening the tone this week. This is another poem written – or at least put into a somewhat final form – on my November writing retreat to Goodhart, on Northern Lake Michigan. The poem stems from a time when Playboy Magazine was as naughty as a boy could imagine . . . and now we have the internet. Feel free to join me in a wistful sigh.

(Cleveland, 1963)

Eugene told us he would leave his Playboys 
when his family moved,
forbidden treasure he promised to hide
in the house down the street.
Having been practically invited,
my brother and the neighborhood boys
boosted me through the milk chute
and I opened the side door
so the whole gang could go inside.
The enormity of our crime -
nice boys don't break into homes 
in search of naked ladies -
set in quickly so we looked around
perfunctorily for a minute or two
tho’ none of us dared 
descend the basement stairs,
where we agreed it most likely
Eugene had stashed his cache.
Suddenly something spooked us 
and we ran back out through the door 
yelling as if the Devil were chasing us
and - given our transgressions -
perhaps he was.
So it’s possible Eugene’s Playboys 
are disintegrating with age
on top of the ductwork
in the darkest part 
of that basement 
on Belvoir Boulevard 
but it’s also possible – 
likely, I now think –
that Eugene’s Playboys
were never there at all.

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A New Poem Every Monday
(though sometimes life gets in the way)

Joseph Neely, all rights reserved except for Playboy logo

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