We watched it opening night
at the Capitol Drive-In.
The VW’s black vinyl
stuck to the backs of my thighs.

I sat in the passenger seat,
a habit from when I was little.
There was a smell
I hoped my parents wouldn’t notice.

I was allowed to hang
the heavy speaker on
my half rolled down window,
to control the volume.

We brought our own cans
of pop in a cooler stashed
on the floorboards.
Slunk low during the trailers,

Dad reached through
the bucket seats into
a bowl of popcorn from home
balanced on the parking brake.

Mom had read the novel
so she whimpered
before the shark took the girl’s foot.

We often swam in the Pacific,
knew a limb could be severed,
blood pooling before your numb,
stupid self-realized what was happening.

My dad was king
of the jump scare. His moment
just as Quint and Brody
and Hooper set off in the Orca.

We expected it, always, but
still screamed when he grabbed us,
upset the popcorn tub, Mom saying
Dammit, Edward, him grinning.

On the drive home, the smell
rose and I felt wet between my legs,
glad for the plastic seats. The brick
red stain of it scarier than the movie.

I lay awake all night,
afraid of a shark
impossibly lurking
under my bed.

Debra McQueen is a motorcycle-riding special education teacher by day and darkishly comic performing poet by night. She’s been called “a working woman’s Maggie Estep, a salt-of-the-earth phrase hammerer that’s more mozzarella than camembert.” (Travis Bland Free Times Review 7/7/16)

Her poems, short stories, and travel writing have appeared in a wide array of publications. In 2016, she won the Jeanne Crandall Broulik Memorial Prize for her poem “Advice” and placed in the top 12 of 5,000 poems in the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest with “Bad Buddha.”
Her poetry collection Bad Girlfriend came out on Singing Bone Press in 2015.
She lives in Denver, CO and is at work on her next book.

You can visit Debra at:

Sandra Reynolds

Sandra Reynolds

Editor at NY Literary Magazine
Sandra earned her B.A. in English. She works part-time as a freelance writer and proofreader. Sandra was born in Massachusetts and currently resides in NYC with her fiance and their adorable pug.
Sandra Reynolds