happy valley

take me to the land 
of fry sauce
and funeral potatoes.

take me back 
to mountain cradles,
unsteady weather,
sashaying cottonwood trees,

take me to magpie city,
algae-infested lakes,
year-round construction
and roadkill,

take me down skinny streets
where all the houses look the same,
matching church steeples
on every corner.

let’s head to the crusty burger king
on timp highway
where i made my first $8.50—

when the high school kid
tells you the ice cream machine is broken
and gives us a few too many quarters,
i’ll smile and know
that some things never change.

i want to go to super bowl parties
where we all wait
for the halftime show,

(except for the one who’s cousin
lives in pittsburgh, so she has to support the steelers,
or the man wearing the chiefs hat
who is two degrees separated
from kansas city.)

let’s go where we all know the real super bowl happens in the fall,
when we put on our red and blue
and forget that the same man
founded both universities.

take me where people are polite,
until they aren’t.

drive me to the sticky-shoe theater 
on main street (you don’t
want to know where it got its name),
let’s get overpriced popcorn
and suckers for two.

let’s cruise down the highway,
passing tacky billboards
and letters above foothills,

let’s breathe in the polluted air,
try not to get sidelined by the texting drivers,
let’s eat “authentic” hawaiian snow cones
above sizzling asphalt.

let’s park at the pond, 
and trick ducks with pebbles,
and watch the sun get enveloped 
by the greenery.

as it does,
maybe i’ll mention that time
i asked you
if you thought i’d ever leave,

and you laughed,
and said
“i think you’ll stay here forever.”

By Corey J. Boren