When A Man Goes His Own Way

When A Man Goes His Own Way

Mother and Child struggled alone—
robbed of all hope by he. 

His heart built of chill and stone—
never looked back, did he.

Mother and Child had it rough—
abandoned and shunned by he.
 
Composed of sturdier stuff—
scrimped and found smiles, did she.
 
But missed his strong loving arms— 
to help and hold, did she.

Weary each day, but up to the task—
Dug deep, resilient was she.

Where has love gone? she wanted to ask—
vowed and promised so often by he.

She was competent and clever—
never surrendered, made do, did she.

Her barren life imagined? Never!
author of heartbreak, was he.

She craved to hear his deep voice—
and loud laughter, did she. 

But silence offered no other choice—
cheerful songbird, became she.

Music and laughter arrived that day—
There was no other way.
 
Mother and Child, good as gold, they say— 
danced and sang and flourished, did they!
 
. . . j

Guilt

Guilt

A storm’s wrath had wrenched
the robin’s nest from the tree above.
 
Jerry and i, boys of ten or so,
stumbled upon it the next morning.
 
The mother robin stood her ground,
fluffing her feathers in defiance.
 
We two, imitators of brave hunters,
executed her with a BB gun and laughed.
 
Jerry grew up, played college football,
and became a famous California detective.
 
i went on to teach children our language,
and lay bare my shame in poetry.
 
. . . j

Corrected

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Corrected

A neighbor thanked me for a simple kindness,
restaurant takeout my diet wouldn’t allow.
 
So off I went, the food still fresh and hot,
to find a someone who needed it more than i. 
 
He was young, wary, browned, and thin, 
as one might expect from stranded youth.  
 
He greeted me with a cautious smile— 
measuring me, and what game I played.
 
I told him my tale as best I could, and named
the restaurant where the meal had been prepared.
 
He studied me with gentle eyes and
politely corrected my pronunciation, 
 
as he might his grandfather stumbling 
over an incoherent rap song line.
 
He took my offering and traded his thanks.
A grin played his lips, a joggled memory perhaps.
 
Taken aback, I managed, “Yes, that’s the place,”
and went on my way, never too old to learn.
 
. . . j

Wonderments and Such

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Wonderments and Such

Children should discover 
the tales of Robin Hood, 
Hansel and Gretel,
Snow White
 
and many others of course,
but also,

they need to visit beaches
and get down on their knees to play
 
in the sand. 
 
For it is there they will 
begin to imagine

how many uncountable 
grains of sand 
must cling to the edges 
of our world.

And thus, 
when they turn their
gaze to the night sky 
 
they will also
wonder
how many stars 
must torch all corners 
of our Universe.

And so too, 
these story tellings,
these imaginings, 
these wonderments,
 
will help them 
peek inward
 
and examine themselves
with a much greater
 
sense of humility.
 
. . . j

Like Bogey and Bacall

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Like Bogey and Bacall

If i were ever to be young again,
i’d cash out my savings,
and start up a yogurt company.
 
With all due respect,
i’d call it
 
Humphrey Yogurt,
 
with flavors like
 
African Queen—
hot romance and lemon,
 
Casablanca—
smoky piano and vanilla,
 
and
 
Key Largo—
grave danger and chilled chardonnay.
 
silly boy that i be.
 
. . . j

Orville

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Orville

I saw a hawk soaring high overhead,
and wondered what he thought and said.
 
I watched while he plummeted and flew by,
And yet could not imagine how or why.
 
Coming near, he cocked his head, 
and I inquired of what he read.

“Tolkien, the Bible, and the Bard,”
he shared, uttered while braking hard.
 
He landed gently, my knee his stool. 
“Of what does your mind use for fuel?”
 
“Much the same as yours, I must say,
but also, of Steinbeck, Updike, Hemingway.”

His eyes were unlike any I’d ever seen,
huge and rounded, incredibly keen.
 
“No poets then, if truth be told?”
His eyes glittered, a mine of gold. 
 
“Mary Oliver, Dickinson, and Frost,”
I hesitated, my memory somewhat lost.
 
“All masters of the word and thought,”
he mused, “such wisdom can’t be bought.”

. . . j

Vocabulary

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Vocabulary
 
Whenever i read
 
a poem
 
and trip 
over a word
 
deliberately set
as a trap—

to catch my
ignorance,
 
a word 
 
i do not recognize—
 
like a silhouetted stranger 
approaching, 
 
potential danger 
 
in a narrow

piss reeking
late night alley—

intent unknown,
 
i turn the page
less i be taught
a lesson
 
better unlearned.

Senses

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Senses

At recess— 
 
eyes 
tilted to the sky, searching—
 
noses, 
dripping faucets, 
leaks of Autumn’s chill— 
 
tongues,
upward curls,
savoring the flow—
 
ears,
flared petals
quivering for broadcast— 
 
hands, 
cupped above brows,
are visors against
the risen sun.

High overhead 
we see 
the perfect V 
of the silvery geese 
sliding south. 

Murmured whispers
of delight and wonder
escape our lips.
 
Back inside,
numb soldiers at our desks,
she admonishes us
to pay close attention
to her blackboard 
writing.

“Please notice how 
the connected letters flow 
to form and distinguish 
the letter v from
the letter r.”

We nod in unison, 
understanding much more.