Shut up our mother said we couldn’t say,
so behind her back we said it all the time
risking her witch’s look, the hairbrush,
or a talk from our father whose sadness
we exacerbated with our acting up, not that
he much cared what we said to each other
but punishing his sons wasn’t what he wanted
after working all day and so it was a failure
of strategy on our part to provoke our mother
to have to ask him to talk to us about shut up
or the picture I drew of turds dropping
from a stick man’s butt or Bill’s tantrum
in front of Miss Ossie Price, but I still can’t
get the words out, something shuts me down
when I’m around somebody who needs to hear it–
yesterday morning I saw this girl get right
in a guy’s face in the City Market parking lot,
they were smoking and kind of stepping around,
when she shouted, “Shut up!” leaning into him,
grinning and red-faced as if what he’d said
was so damn scandalous but perfectly delicious
like I know you’re not wearing underwear today
or blankety blank blank, and god did it hit me hard,
sixty-five years old, both parents long dead,
and whatever that girl was feeling right then–
which had to be some fantastic amalgam of arousal,
embarrassment, shame, and joy–wasn’t anything
I’m ever going to feel, even if I get another
sixty-five, even if I ever do break through
and finally ask some jackass to please be quiet.

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DAVID HUDDLE is currently Distinguished Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Hollins University. He taught for 38 years at the University of Vermont and continues to teach at the Bread Loaf School of English.Huddle’s work has appeared in TriQuarterly, The American Scholar, The Hudson Review, Story, Esquire, Harper’s, The New Yorker, Poetry, Best American Short Stories, The New York Times Book Review, Shenandoah, The Kenyon Review, and The Georgia Review. His novel, The Story of a Million Years (Houghton Mifflin, 1999) was named a Distinguished Book of the Year by Esquire and a best Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times Book Review. In 2012, LSU Press will publish his seventh poetry collection, Black Snake at the Family Reunion, and Tupelo Press will publish his third novel, Nothing Can Make Me Do This

6 responses to “Epiphany in the Parking Lot”

  1. Brad Listi says:

    This is genius. My kind of poetry.

  2. Caleb Powell says:

    I’m no poet, and can’t recognize the good from bad because to me it’s all Greek, but I liked this, too.

  3. paul beckman says:

    As in everything else I read of Huddle–outstanding.

  4. Gloria says:

    I want to read more of this all day. Or, even better, have more and more of this narrated to me as I take a long road trip.

  5. Robert Noel says:

    Genius use of conflicted emotions and what the narrator characterizes as the real way to live a moment in a life. The way the young woman can be recoiled then amuzed and eventually even a little bit turned on is a great way to describe something that happens to many of us in a lifetime at one moment or another. David Huddle captures that love/hate we’ve all had with at least one person in our lives where they both disgust us and turn us on at the same time.
    He also captures the tension and annoying tactics we’ve all experienced while riding in a car with our parents and what we do to pass the time on that ride. You could use the stickman pooping for an example of this.
    I really enjoyed this work. Hope to see more from Huddle

  6. Rayslan says:

    When April is overwhat then my frneid? Those sound like the ending of a poem as well.Or a short poem. Indeed dear g you have written a poem.Like or Dislike: 0

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