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The Last Year of the Rest of My Life
by Rick Lupert

When I was seventeen
they named me crew member of the month
at the Temple City McDonald’s. I should have
taken it as a warning that they considered me
their kind of guy.

              I was the sweetest virgin
              you ever met.

When I was seventeen
the kind of money you needed to go to
your prom with the Tuxedo and the limousine and
the photographs was the same thing as winning
the lottery.

              I wasn’t old enough
              to play the lottery.

When I was seventeen
I wore a yellow jacket with a dragon on it as was
the custom of our sixth period film class. It was also
the custom to hear dragonfag come out of the mouths
of the people who tossed the ball.

              I learned to love
              refried beans.

When I was seventeen
I beat a man who we all considered
to be a genius at chess. It was at a cabin
in Big Bear. The word checkmate rang out like
the fall of the Roman Empire.

              I built my first empire
              with a Commodore 64.

When I was seventeen
I spent weekends away on a mountain
overlooking the ocean where people would
pretend to see whales and that there was
a pigeon in the room.

              I ruined everything
              for the first time.

When I was seventeen
I wandered around my high school
senior year, burdened every day with
the knowledge that all of this
was ending

              and it ended. I remember it like
              it was yesterday.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My high school senior yearbook photo. This was one of the last times I ever wore a tie.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Seventeen years old set the tone for all of my future experiences. I remember being incredibly sad that High School was ending from the very beginning of the year. I clearly have the ability to be nostalgic about things that haven’t happened yet. Whenever I encounter people from that time, I desperately want them to understand the weight of our shared history, as if it invalidates everything that happened since. And although I never eat at McDonald’s anymore…every time I drive by one, I behave as if I know something everyone else doesn’t.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rick Lupert
 has been involved with L.A. poetry since 1990. He is the recipient of the 2014 Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center Distinguished Service Award and was a co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets for two years. He created the Poetry Super Highway and hosted the weekly Cobalt Cafe reading for almost 21 years. His first spoken word album — Rick Lupert Live and Dead, featuring 25 studio and live tracks — was released in March 2016. He’s authored 20 collections of poetry, including Donut Famine, Professor Clown on Parade, Romancing the Blarney Stone (both forthcoming from Rothco Press in December 2016),  Making Love to the 50 Foot Woman (Rothco Press, May 2015), The Gettysburg Undress, and Nothing in New England is New, and edited the anthologies Ekphrastia Gone WildA Poet’s Haggadah, and the noir anthology The Night Goes on All Night. He also writes and draws (with Brendan Constantine) the daily web comic Cat and Banana and writes the Jewish Poetry column “From the Lupertverse” for JewishJournal.com. He is regularly featured at venues all over the world. Visit him on facebook.

Author photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher.