“Soul Sacrifice”

Mike Clonoski, my hippie friend, sat across from me in Earth Science. He did the school’s daily announcements, choosing the song that played in the hallways while we changed classes. I asked him to play “Soul Sacrifice” by Santana and loaned him my Woodstock album—a great song to change classes to, I recommend it highly— that ecstatic guitar speaking in tongues down the long echoing hallways of Fitzgerald High where all 1256 of us bopped a little, jiggled a little, shook our thangs a little, quicker in spite of wanting to move slower because “Soul Sacrifice,” for crying out loud!— Earth Science, for crying out loud, science for those not going to college, did not provide information more useful than biology or chemistry for us future factory rats, but having earth in it made it sound practical. After all, we lived on earth. Why didn’t they just call it Earth? They didn’t call biology Biology Science. Clonoski arrived late to class when he did announcements. He was a music head and a pothead and just about any kind of head you could name. He had a wild curly head of hair he parted in the middle hippie-style because he was one of two hippies at Fitzgerald, the other being Jim Tanicki, a freak in every sense of the word, the tallest kid in the school with another six inches of electric curly blonde hair on top of it. He and Clonoski let their freak flags fly, and those flags were glow-in-the-dark tie-dye Acapulco Gold. My father still cut my hair—too short, and we fought over it. Bonnie Melkan sat in front of me. Bonnie—simply beautiful, her long hair nearly down to her ass, and her ass that day, the pale, round scoops of it, slightly revealed by hip hugger jeans as she bent over her seat—and as “Soul Sacrifice” wound down and we sat in our seats waiting for class to begin, Mr. Chubbell’s bald, skeletal zombie-like head smiling at Bonnie as he did every single day though he smiled at no one else ever and resented teaching earth science because he was a physicist who should only be teaching the smart kids—oh, Bonnie knew what she knew because like all of us she was no dummy so she always sort of smiled back, then looked away and got her B, sacrificing a little of her soul, but oh that day her ass shook a little in the seat, as if she was ready to rise up and testify, cry out loud, and I was swimming with her ass crack, neither of us distracted by books—they were so heavy, we were so light with “Soul Sacrifice” and for ten seconds I knew how hot the earth’s core was. When Clonoski showed up, his hair wagging like a happy dog, and plopped down across from me, he handed back my album that gave me all the multiple choices I would ever need, along with a convenient place to roll joints, and I unfolded the cover at my desk to glance at the large photo of naked people swimming, and Chubbell was taking roll and I was Here! and Clonsoki was Here! and Bonnie turned around and it looked like she was going to say something, but she didn’t, her eyes meeting mine above the album cover, and because Bonnie knew what she knew and would have gone to Woodstock too she gave me a smile that exploded my head like a cherry bomb, then turned back to say Here with a sneer and Clonoski looked over at Bonnie’s ass and then at me and smiled and rolled his enormous eyes like something out of astronomy, like a constellation we all knew but had no name for.


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Jim Ray Daniels

About Jim Ray Daniels

Jim Daniels’ fourteenth book of poems, Birth Marks, was published by BOA Editions in 2013 and was selected as a Michigan Notable Book, winner of the Milton Kessler Poetry Book Award, and received the Gold Medal in Poetry in the Independent Publishers Book Awards. His fifth book of short fiction, Eight Mile High, was published by Michigan State University Press in 2014. A native of Detroit, Daniels is the Thomas Stockham University Professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University.