This poem was selected as a finalist for the 2021 MAYDAY Poetry Prize.
My favorite part is when Danny swings his body
down the fire escape, tippy-toes onto the porch railing,
throws a leg over the old ten-speed with the handlebars
like ram horns, and pedals off to the country club. Eighteen
and invincible. Danny cuts across train tracks, no helmet.
Kenny Loggins is playing, again and again. The women
in this movie have real hair, frizzy and uneven, like they curled
and set it themselves. In the evenings, they light cigarettes
and drink highballs. I can’t imagine feeling safe in a room
with strangers ever again, breathing the same humid,
tainted air. Of course I’m watching a movie from 1980,
of course I wish I were Carl, smoking weed in my barn
and obsessed with bluegrass propagation. I am sewing
masks from old t-shirts while onscreen, people place bets
on whether a kid will eat a booger. Chase and Murray
famously despised each other on set, and in real life;
here in 2020, we know that Chevy is the worst, while
Bill’s our favorite uncle. I first watched Caddyshack
when I was nine, with my uncle, and when Maggie
pulled off her top, he said, I forgot about this part.
Maybe don’t tell your dad. Thrilling, this membership
to the adult world, its casual racism and topless women.
But it was also so, so stupid, and therefore deeply funny.
I laugh more in the pandemic than I thought I would.
I have to. My president denies that a virus is killing us.
That’s it. That’s the poem that is your life. Of course
sometimes, after a long day of doomscrolling, you make
a highball, and you daydream of cigarettes, and you put
on Caddyshack. You rewind over and over the moment
when Danny is dangling from the ladder, feet off
the porch. His body tells him to stop thinking and just let go,
that it will take over from here. You’ll get nothing, and like it
CHRISTINA OLSON is the author of Terminal Human Velocity (Stillhouse Press, 2017). Her chapbook The Last Mastodon won the Rattle 2019 Chapbook Contest. Other work appears in The Atlantic, The Normal School, Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Best Creative Nonfiction. She is an associate professor at Georgia Southern University and tweets about coneys and mastodons as @olsonquest.