BROAD STREET  invites to you to a long-ago swimming hole, before a terrible accident and a devastating flood, during an era when girls still drank Tab.

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J. Ross Peters

Goshen Pass: Devil’s Kitchen  

The last time I saw him

He was lounging his eighteen-year-old

Arrogance against the side of what

Looked like a grandparent’s

Lincoln Continental.

With his right wrist pinned

Against his left side

By his dangling left arm,

He looked too comfortable

Considering his predicament.

Perhaps because the car was tilted

At an angle over the curb

And into a line of boxwoods,

Perhaps because this kid didn’t look

Like he’d pass the sobriety test,

The cop looked perturbed

With his stiff posture and his hat

Tilted back above his forehead,

Revealing a red, wet line.


Four years earlier this boy

And I got rides out to swim

At Devil’s Kitchen, where Hogback

And Jump Mountains

Head their opposite directions,

Where once we were lucky

To see girls stepping hummingbird light

From stone to stone

Above the river’s noisiness

And then sit, legs stretched out

The length of their brightly colored

Beach towels on the rocks.

I wanted to think they were only pretending

To read Glamour magazine

As they sunbathed and sipped Tab.

We exhausted ourselves diving

And holding our stomachs

In and our bird-chests out,

And laughing loud trying to make

The deeper sounds of older boys.

Maybe they were impressed to a degree

That left them stunned and silent—

We never got their names.


All those Maury River rocks moved

In the 1985 Election Day flood.

It filled all the old places to swim

And invented new ones.

There is the before and the after.

I don’t think girls drink Tab anymore,

And no one I know drives

A Lincoln like that either.


J. Ross Peters’s poems have appeared in Terminus and The Birmingham Poetry Review. Other work is forthcoming in Aethlon and Broad River Review (Honorable Mention for the Rash Prize). He is collecting poems for a book to be entitled The Flood is Not the River. Additionally, he contributed the forward and the photography for Sacred Views of St. Francis: The Sacro Monte di Orta (forthcoming from Punctum Press in 2019), about a Franciscan pilgrimage site in Italy’s Piedmont region.