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The Drink

  • Nobody asked me during the lengthy
  • questioning around the whole blown-up thing.
  • If they had, would I have been the one
  • who cracked and spilled everything I knew?
  •  
  • The truth as I remember it: that first
  • watery, ice-tasting layer of cool before
  • my lips touched the drink itself, and then
  • the way the Coke eased the sweet of it into
  • my mouth, its brazen taste, at first
  • licorice-black then yellow-gold. How it blazed
  • a streak of liquid light all down my throat,
  • both cold and warm at once.
  •  
  • It was part of that world I resented,
  • the place that held its treasures ransom
  • until one reached some impossible age.
  •  
  • That was why we loved the junior high
  • teacher who opened the door briefly
  • with sips from her rum and Coke
  • at the holiday social.
  •  
  • And it was why every interviewed student
  • lied to the principal, the police,
  • and the gray-faced lady
  • sent in from the school board
  • to investigate the case.
  •  

Jackleen Holton’s poems have appeared in The Giant Book of Poetry and journals including Bayou, Kestrel, Natural Bridge, North American Review, Rattle, Sanskrit, Talking River, and Serving House Journal. Bellingham Review awarded her the 2014 49th Parallel Poetry Prize. She works as a poet-­teacher with California Poets in the Schools and with Border Voices. “The Drink” originally appeared in her collection Devil Music.

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  • Nobody asked me during the lengthy
  • questioning around the whole blown-up thing.
  • If they had, would I have been the one
  • who cracked and spilled everything I knew?
  •  
  • The truth as I remember it: that first
  • watery, ice-tasting layer of cool before
  • my lips touched the drink itself, and then
  • the way the Coke eased the sweet of it into
  • my mouth, its brazen taste, at first
  • licorice-black then yellow-gold. How it blazed
  • a streak of liquid light all down my throat,
  • both cold and warm at once.
  •  
  • It was part of that world I resented,
  • the place that held its treasures ransom
  • until one reached some impossible age.
  •  
  • That was why we loved the junior high
  • teacher who opened the door briefly
  • with sips from her rum and Coke
  • at the holiday social.
  •  
  • And it was why every interviewed student
  • lied to the principal, the police,
  • and the gray-faced lady
  • sent in from the school board
  • to investigate the case.
  •  

Jackleen Holton’s poems have appeared in The Giant Book of Poetry and journals including Bayou, Kestrel, Natural Bridge, North American Review, Rattle, Sanskrit, Talking River, and Serving House Journal. Bellingham Review awarded her the 2014 49th Parallel Poetry Prize. She works as a poet-­teacher with California Poets in the Schools and with Border Voices. “The Drink” originally appeared in her collection Devil Music.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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