Anything Helps

Photo by Josh Hild on
Anything Helps

He stood in the deserted island formed
at the intersection of Kolb and 22nd Street. 

Sleepy-eyed commuters glanced
 at his cardboard declarations:


Sheets of white paper flapped like seagull wings 
on the stirred currents of whizzing cars.

The light turned the color of autumn leaves. 
Cars slowed and rested.

Windows slid down. Elbows protruded.
Voices sang out.

“Any of those 
old-school rhymes today?”

“Hey, man. Make me giggle. 
Need one terrible like.”

“Loved yesterday’s. 
Read it to my kids at the dinner table.”

“Touch my heart, Poet. 
It’s hurtin’ bad sore.”

“I got a feeling 
you’re gonna make me cry.”

He walked the line. Handed ‘em out.
Touched skin. Stretched his grin.

“Morning,” he said. 
“Feelin’ good today?”  

“Thinkin’ ‘bout yuh,” he said.
“Hope this helps,” he said.

The light changed color, 
golf course green.

Traffic edged away, 
a soothed tide going out.

Some waved the words out the window 
in a nice, see yuh later kinda way—

and his ribs ached 
from the banging goin’ on inside.

. . . j
from the Childhood Remedy and Other Such collection 


Photo by Edu Carvalho on


Before fitness gyms 

a young man's 

from helping 


lift the stones,
travel the plow,
chop firewood,

and fetch 



All the while,


studied her

in the looking glass,
and dreamt of the

ripped lad
(apprenticed to the Smithy)

holding her in his arms.

. . . j
from the Wonderments and Such collection

Cobbled Together

Photo by Daan Wijngaard on
Cobbled Together

“Do you envy our beauty?”
the blooms asked the cobblestones.

“Envy? Not at all,” came the sure reply.

“Surely our scent then?”

“Envy your scent? Never.”

“Don’t be stubborn. Our delightful shape?”

“What is shape?” the cobbles asked.
“Time and water made us what we are.
We are each unique.”

“As are we,”
the flowers insisted.

“Be satisfied then,” the cobbles said.
“Value yourselves and be quiet. 
There is still much to learn.”

. . . j
from the Childhood Remedy and Other Such collection


Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

More than just a rainy day
child’s indoor game,


taught us that some
properties were more
valuable than others;

that hotels cost more
than houses;

that landlords were
cruel masters;

that money could
be hoarded;

that bankruptcy
was shameful;

that math
could be managed
in the head;

that success in life 

might depend 
on the roll of dice.

. . . j
from the Childhood Remedy and Other Such collection

Genesis, Revised

Photo by cottonbro on
Genesis, Revised

In the beginning 
there was a constant
stream of sounds,

and then God

sat down on a wooden stool,

and much like grandmother,
intent upon her business of
snapping harvested beans 
for the canning jars,

God broke noise

into discrete pieces
called words,

knowing the Tower of Babel’s
foundation had already 
been laid

that we might the better



and love

each other.

. . . j
from the Childhood Remedy and Other Such collection

Speed Demons

Photo by Renato Abati on
Speed Demons

In our frantic dash 
through life 
we’ve devised

microwave ovens,
self-checkout lanes,
next day delivery

blazing gigahertz.

Thank God for

slow summer days
that entice
sweet corn

seven feet toward heaven,

lingering kisses in the night,


the nine loving months 
mother and child are one.

. . . j
from the Wonderments and Such collection

School For Boys

Photo by Daniel Nieto on
School For Boys

Had I but kept
my wits
about me
in school,

I would have
taken the

Intro To Kissing

instead of

Algebra 1

and then,
a year later,
opted for the 

Advanced Kissing

in place of 

Geometry 1.

There’s little doubt
I would have earned 
a better G.P.A.

and perhaps 
status with

the Girls.

. . . j
from the Childhood Remedy and Other Such collection

Ready or Not

Photo by JoEllen Moths on
Ready or Not

Despite a thousand warnings
from people who make it their
business to know,

the weather— 
no matter the season— 

is worse than

Gramma can ever remember,

and she,

(God bless her gentle heart)

has no employment 
except to remember

her childhood,

a pleasant time when children
played giggle games like

hopscotch, marbles,
and hide and seek.

Her eyes closed tightly against
the bark of a shade tree in the
front yard, she counted slowly— 

“. . . 98, 99, 100. Here I come,
ready or not!”  

so that others, forewarned, 
hid amid silent suppressions—

until, muscles taut, ready for 
the race back to the maple— 
erupt like startled cheetahs 

hiding behind the 
neighbor’s gate.

. . . j
from the Childhood Remedy and Other Such collection