Summer of 68
   by Loretta Diane Walker Loretta Diane Walker

Loretta Diane Walker is a three time Pushcart nominee and an award winning poet. Her manuscript Word Ghetto won the 2011 Bluelight Press Book Award. She has published three collections of poetry. Her book In This House was recently published by Bluelight Press. Walker’s work has appeared in a number of publications and anthologies. Loretta was recently elected as “Statesman in the Arts” by the Odessa’s Heritage Council. Walker received a BME from Texas Tech University and earned an MA from The University of Texas of the Permian Basin. She teaches music in Odessa, Texas. Her Web site is

For three days a long candescent tongue of fire
licks across the desiccated mouth of earth
sequestered in far West Texas—burning vines and stones.

I watch the stubborn flames;
my stomach struggles with the same dread
as it did when I was ten.

Bobby throws me in the deep
end of a pool.
I fail to remember what I learned the first day
of swimming lessons, flail my arms
instead of stroke, forget how to paddle my feet.

Water is a heavy lid pressing down on me;
I do not touch bottom.
I kick hard, bob-up gasping, reach for a pole,
listen to spectators laugh.
Chlorine and joking sting the sky out of my eyes
when I shut them, go back under.

I wet myself; feel the burn of fear—shame
on my legs when a strong hand hoists
me onto hot concrete.
I want to go home; my brothers are not ready.
I cower in a corner, stare at the roof
of the Village Market Grocery Store.

I do not think about my cousin, Curtis,
sweating in the jungles of Vietnam,
bullets tearing through Bobby Kennedy,
the Beatles’ Revolution and Hey Jude.

My mind blisters with anger.
Biting my bottom lip,
I mentally rehearse punishment
for Bobby. The pungent taste
of revenge ferments on my tongue.
The desire to “get him back,”
rising like a fresh loaf of bread.

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