Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998
Poems by Charles Rammelkamp
The Kindness of Strangers
"A torque converter clutch fault,"
the garage mechanic told us,
and by the sound of the words,
I knew it was going to be expensive.
"Trouble is we can't do nothing about it,"
he went on, "since it's a Nissan,
and we only work on GM products.
But let me call up to Saginaw."
He picked up the phone.
"See if I can't find someone to help."
On our way home to Maryland
from our family vacation,
our car had broken down,
about eighty miles north of Ann Arbor.
Now we had to improvise.
I remembered my father
downshifting into Aw shucks gear
to converse with blue collar types,
a college professor himself,
not a snob but afraid of appearing superior,
as if getting your hands dirty
were somebody else's problem.
"The only brown hair on my body
is the hair on my head,"
the girl in line in front of me
at Chipotle told her two companions,
another girl and a boy,
all three college students,
her tone matter-of-fact,
nothing suggestive in her voice.
She might have been talking
about the literature exam
or the biology lab experiment.
"Thanks for sharing,"
the other girl's sarcastic response,
but I couldn't help thinking
of the hair elsewhere
on the brown-haired girl's body.
Blond? Black? Red?
I wasn't sure if I'd tag that
with an LOL or a TMI,
but I remembered my Facebook friend
Ramona posting last night:
"Anxious about the biopsy
performed on my left boob this morning."
Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore, where he lives, and Reviews Editor for Adirondack Review. His most recent books include American Zeitgeist (Apprentice House) and a chapbook, Jack Tar's Lady Parts (Main Street Rag Press). Another poetry chapbook, Me and Sal Paradise, was published in 2018 by FutureCycle Press. His work has appeared frequently in Offcourse.