Kentuck Inlet (Oregon), 1968 – Kim Goldberg

Kentuck Inlet (Oregon), 1968

Hind leg of summer, sea clings like snails
to heat-thick air smothering slimy mudflats bubbling
with butter clams popping wet kisses
from briny lips. A killdeer

shrieks past, alarm fading to distant siren
or song. Four girls in a barn hiding
from heat of freedom’s final charge, practicing
on each other for the boys

we will soon be meeting in junior high—
their older brothers drafted and crouching now
in far-off rice paddies. It is Connie’s idea.
You, me and Brita know nothing

about boyfriends or frenching or anything
else. We cannot even negotiate a truce
between noses. Cool silky straw in two stalls
prickles nut-brown skin, fooling necks, playing tricks

like naughty fingers stitching unguarded
outposts of flesh. We take our mission seriously
in this kissing boot camp so we will be ready
to give them our best.

Note: “Kentuck Inlet (Oregon), 1968” was originally published in The Stony Thursday Book, Autumn 2008 (Limerick, Ireland).

Kim Goldberg’s Red Zone collection of poems about urban homelessness has been taught in university literature courses. Her previous collection, Ride Backwards on Dragon, was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Award. She is a winner of the Rannu Fund Poetry Prize for Speculative Literature and other distinctions.Visit her online at

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