Summer. bike ride. I’m a child. I live just outside of Churchill Downs in Kentucky. young in skinned knees, pumping a 10 speed in a humid southern town, dodging cracks in the side walk. it’s an old superstition and I still hold it. grass growing in tiny bunches, in cracks. sun peeling the skin. candy rotting the teeth. the city is so dirty. the houses dilapidated like fallen, shambling drunks. paint crumbling. and my brother ate paint chips. someone called him retarded. rusted cars, playing house. sedan clubhouse, an oven in July. garbage day, rummaging for toys. I once found Quik strawberry milk in the trash I consumed it, and later felt like shit. hot trash treats. cumulus cloud companions, balloons without strings, the heat over eighty degrees, friends none to speak. after school fight. kids claiming coitus in the elementary. country music blaring from a fake wood radio. I found the radio on the curb and was proud of my conquest. all the lyrics incoherent but somehow they resonated. riding bikes all day. no parents. busy, their marriages failing, lives changing. riding through the slums. the houses of broken homes watching me tiredly. boarded eyes. down steep hills. up plywood ramps. kids jeering from porches, throwing rocks, glass, anything. scribbled graffiti. the rain makes everything more loathsome, wet clinging grime. the dirt sticks to everything. fingertip messages scrawled on cars. s.o.s. twenty foot Marlboro man towering above the block, faded, peeling, half his face gone. like a totem making sentry of the oiled trash, the houses and apartments nodding to demolition. meanwhile, the thoroughbreds are fenced off and protected like coveted family jewels. I stood at the fence and thought, that’s all Kentucky is to the world. just some damn horses. Now and Laters and candy lips stick, my front porch. the house leans. a drunk on the curb mouth a gape and snoring. is that your dad? no he’s in the tavern across the street. he lives there and its always loud. angry sounding buses threaten to squash the spastic child cyclers as they clutch their Sega genesis desires. cleaning gritty fingernails, I learned that my math teacher was dead. her car she wrapped around an old elm or maple on Southern Parkway the night before. my dad signed me out of school and took me to see the spot where she died. on the asphalt a ripe red stain. did I make this up or was that real? death. learning about death. with cockroaches. the bug-man sprayed and killed your parakeet, Christina. it was stuck to the newspaper that lined the bottom of its cage. I recorded it chirping on a cassette tape. I remember running terrified from rusted sedans. dented and hosting drug addled predators in cut-off jeans, wet legs stuck to torn imitation leather seats. semen glued them and fueled them. I fled with my flea bitten mongrel friend. fly eaten, shit making. my dog made a minefield of our backyard. in this backyard where every Derby I parked tourist cars, the ladies in fine heals, disgusted and wobbling around the turds, the mud. I stood squat, shabby and I pocketed their money. Kentuckians, that’s all we are; horses, chicken and the cluck, Thompson.