Charles Rammelkamp

Leelanau Red

“Leelanau red, Leelanau red,”
I chanted silently in my head,
noticing the bottle of cheap wine
on the shelf at Peninsula Liquors,
channeling the old 1970’s song about the guy who’ll
“steal your woman, then he’ll rob your head,”
but really, to us kids, a pot song, Panama Red
a buzz term like Acapulco Gold;
a song by the New Riders of the Purple Sage.

It brought back memories from my youth
in northern Michigan, summers smoking joints,
guzzling cheap wine up here in MAGA land.
They’d always been gun-toting, flag-waving “patriots,”
long before Timothy McVeigh and the Michigan militia,
at least a generation or two before Trump came along.

I remembered the guy in the pickup truck
pointing his pistol at us on the beach,
calling us “dirty longhaired hippies,”
boasting about having served his country in ’Nam.
Lorie, Chet’s girlfriend, screamed at him,
both frightened and outraged.
“You murderer! Pig! Get out of here!”

The guy sneered but put his gun away,
went back to his truck.
Lorie’d been fearsome;
bullies always turning out to be cowards.
“You doin’ both of these guys, girlie?
Or I bet ain’t neither of them’s got any balls anyway.”
Then he peeled away in a screech of rubber.

“Can I help you?”
the young woman behind the counter asked.
I put down the bottle of Leelanau wine.
“Can you recommend a good Riesling?”

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