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John Lafleur '23

All of the keys I kept still

Have no use to me

But to take me back in time as I lose track of it

Jumbling more keys that may have been my parents’

Into a folded jeans pocket crusted over with food remains and

Pudgy unmanageable fingers.

Unbothered, you’re a businessman,

In the Hamptons

with a made up company, and a pet fish, and

all the keys that have no use to you

But at one time they did.

Then I could unlock the car, and drag the jagged metal gracefully across the drivers side

Of my mothers’ SUV until it read someone else’s name.

And I got my teeth kicked in.

And even these keys have no use to you

But at one time they did.

When you poured powdery bags of cement into a worn wooden two by two square in the driveway

And spent six-hundred dollars on your four foot ten sons’ chances at playing basketball

And He jumbled with these keys

to the lowering mechanism made specifically for the kid who lies about being five foot ten

To dunk on.

If he hadn’t lost these keys,

They’d still be of no use to him

Even on the other side.


In a different version you buy amalgamated assortments of vinyl records to make your room look cool

For the hoes,


But you spin them a few times

On your Uncles old record player

Because it helps you think about who he was

before the keys to him

Have no use to you.

My mom complains

Or jokes about being a latchkey kid when her parents would always have to work,

Then I got these keys

But before she was never on edge, awakened by an unhinged, twist of a brass doorknob creeping well

over the vaguely etched dash of a curfew.

And at some point she never will be again

When the keys to our old house

Have no use to her or to me.

She still smiles when she thinks about the keys her son got to the operating room lock box,

And the nurse joked to his father that he should kiss his son before he goes in

But he did anyway.

In case he didn’t make it.

We gave those keys back too,

And they have no use to me.

Then the jumbling stops.

You meet a girl from Savannah who renders painfully innocent

As you make your way from the unbearably humid pool that basked in buzzing LEDs

With the now soaked pockets that held the key Card.

If I could just get in.

It stopped working,

But it must have used to though

As your buddies give you the hardest time

About the key

That has no use to you or to me.


This time around,

On this Other side

You thought you’d live alone.

There were only a few times that grabbing the keys

Felt better than when you grabbed them at sixteen.

The drive back from the hospital would be one of them.

Even Shinier keys acting as stars in a one man play carelessly scatter

The carpet filled with grape juice stains and tears

And a few more years later you trip over your same old Matchbox cars

And “now it’s your turn,” and you clean up.

You spend every night on the couch.

The Louvre has nothing on your refrigerator,

Inundated with magnets and finger paintings like comments on some dumb Instagram post.

The chorus from your favorite PBS theme song plays for the eight millionth time

And someone finally saves you a seat at Christmas Eves and Valentines.

And you’re not happy, you’re just at peace

As I pick up the keys from the new carpet

That have no use to me.

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