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: Poem Free 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
Ripped Ripped Before fitness gyms existed, a young man's muscles came from helping Father lift the stones, travel the plow, chop firewood, and fetch water for Mother. All the while, Sister studied her face 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
A Flower's Keeper Windowsills, facing south to catch the warmth, more than willing, make steadfast gardeners. . . . j from the Childhood Remedy and Other Such collection
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
Quarantined More than just a rainy day child’s indoor game, Monopoly 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; and that success in life might depend on the roll of dice. . . . j from the Childhood Remedy and Other Such collection
Fishing with Annie at Lake Pleasant
Girls can’t fish properly, you know.
That’s a crock, and you know it. Who says so?
Tommy. He says girls don’t like worms.
You can tell Tommy
a whole lot more than she likes
. . . j
from the Wonderments and Such collection
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 understand, laugh, and love each other. . . . j from the Childhood Remedy and Other Such collection
Speed Demons In our frantic dash through life we’ve devised microwave ovens, self-checkout lanes, next day delivery and blazing gigahertz. Thank God for slow summer days that entice sweet corn seven feet toward heaven, lingering kisses in the night, and the nine loving months mother and child are one. . . . j from the Wonderments and Such collection
School For Boys Had I but kept my wits about me in school, I would have taken the Intro To Kissing elective instead of Algebra 1 and then, a year later, opted for the Advanced Kissing class in place of Geometry 1. There’s little doubt I would have earned a better G.P.A. and perhaps gained higher status with the Girls. . . . j from the Childhood Remedy and Other Such collection
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