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Poetry

Homemade pizza on a kerosene heater

A free verse poem

Homemade pizza on the kerosene heater was our specialty: tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese on an English muffin. A pepperoni or two if you were lucky and a fresh Hormel packet in the fridge. Bundled up in the downstairs living room our breath visible inside four walls.

“At least we have hot water,” my dad would say, referencing the outdoor wood stove he bought for these moments.

It wasn’t unusual back then to be without electricity for two solid weeks in the winter due to a snowstorm. It wasn’t unusual to be without electricity for two weeks in the summer due to the remnants of a hurricane off the coast. Phenix always seemed last on the list in Charlotte County for the restoration of power. I never heard anyone complain though. It’s just how it was then and we all managed.

If in need of warmth, you could count on your kerosene heater or a bonfire atop the pool hill. Few owned generators. Nobody worried about the Internet being out because the Internet was a long ways away in those days.

“Put your gloves on and help me load the back of my pickup with firewood so I can get to work and not skid off the highway.”

“Don’t dare buy any of those discount hot dogs at B&D they are advertising on the marquee. They haven’t had electricity for a week and I don’t hear no generator chugging along. They’re two for a dollar for a reason. I’ll pick up some Vienna sausages and crackers on the way home.”

“Get the milk out the refrigerator and chunk it in some snow so it doesn’t spoil.”

“I’ll pick up some more English muffins, too.”

By Jeffrey Pillow

Jeffrey Pillow is an American short story writer, memoirist, and poet. He is the author of The Lady Next Door. His writing has been published in Urge Magazine, The Nervous Breakdown, 16 Blocks, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, TheBody.com, New York Times, Washington Post, and Richmond Times-Dispatch.

He grew up in the small town of Phenix, Virginia, population: 200, and now lives in Charlottesville with his wife, two kids, and a dog named Mozzarella Cheese. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia where he was a Rainey Scholar. This is his blog.