Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Hell You Say

So many things I was told
about wearing a hat to stay warm,
cracking my knuckles, swallowing gum.
Hokum. Our fifth grade Milky Way
galaxy was a perfect spiral traced,
first, in Elmer's glue. Then, like little
gods, we saw that glitter was needed,
and sprinkled in a billion stars or so.
Wrong. To say nothing of love, afterlife,
Shakespeare. Even that gravity thing
is wearing thin. Just the other day
I watched an entire herd of young goats
lift off from a hillside and bleat
their way like pelicans to the sea.
And now scientists say there is something
so attractive outside our universe
that it's pulling a stream of galaxies
toward it at a couple million miles
per hour. Right. God, I suppose, leaving
town, chasing galactic tail? Do I look
like a rube?  Leave me to my pelican
watching, followed, perhaps, by a picnic,
a nice little dip in the ocean--waiting,
as one must, a good hour after eating.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Adventures in the Park

The black rubber swings are killer
whales upon whose backs we ride
across the southern ocean.  The sand
beneath the monkey bars? Lava
we must swing above, hand over
hand.  And if we fall, what then?
I ask young Will.  Do we burn?
Do we die?  Lava can’t hurt you
anymore when you’re old, grandpa,
so you can walk underneath me
with your arms out like this.
Later came the battle with the enemies
of Thor, who always wait stupidly
at the bottom of the slippery slide,
never learning, it seemed, they were
no match for a young Norse god
and his ag├Ęd, but lava-proof sidekick.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Break It Down

Let’s begin.  First, peel the stiff
pages of paperbark, leaf slowly
through, read what the years
have left behind like Braille.

Next, unwind the gauze, rusted
with blood, bandage worked into
the wound like plaster on lath,
to check the knitting of bones.

“Tell me about the day you found
your mother moldering in a corner,
staring at a tear drop on her finger,
making sounds like kittens in a burlap bag.”

My grandson visits most Saturdays,
slides under bulletproof glass his drawings
of a man dressed all in orange, holding
a blood-red heart, mouth, a capital ‘O’.

Monday, April 14, 2014


We had heard the rumor that if you stood
in the pool of water out in the street
where the storm drain backs up after
a heavy rain, you would “catch” polio.
None of us knew what polio was, but we
heard the way grownups talked about it.

And so it meant something, in our neighborhood,
whether you were a kid who mucked about
devil-may-care in the water, even ducking
your head, or one who stayed out and watched
from the front step, sucking the consolatory
Popsicle and secretly wishing that just one
of them out there—Larry Wilson, maybe—
would get what he had coming.

As it turns out, it was not polio but a bucking
bronc in a high school rodeo that threw Larry
from the saddle after a full seven-second ride
and did him in.  You just knew that with a life
like that it was going to be something.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spring in the City

Which means the skirts are shorter
and the legs are longer, and a strut
will set your ass bouncing down the walk
like a ball following the words of a song
to which we can only whistle. A pigeon
with a mottled breast and sequined
dickey, first to a spill of caramel corn
behind the taco cart, pauses only to vomit
in his ecstasy. School boy all in black,
paperback folded open in one hand,
cigarette in the other, but mostly watching
the way his hair reflected in the shop
window catches the breeze just right,
so fucking fine, it's the shot at last
he's been storyboarding all winter.