Timber!

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Timber
(In memoria to Bobby Keech)

Can you lay a big tree down, Bobby?

Hell yes, and it’ll be as gently 

felled as any babe ever laid to cradle.

Can you make it 

fall exactly so, Bobby?

You can set your compass to it, friend. 

It’ll fall 

as 
  								straight
              									as any 
                        			country 
                                   			road there
 be.

Then have a go at it, Bobby,
but let me caution you, 

trees are as unpredictable 
as any woman on Earth.

Yeah. I’ll be minding that.

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

Bridges

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Bridges

There is a 

powerful, unyielding 

force

buried deep 

within

Men

that will not

abide

a body of water,

no matter its

depth or rush,

to separate 
 
humanity.


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

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 sustenance 

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 mentioned
the restaurant where the meal had been prepared.

He studied me with understanding 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
from the Childhood Remedy and Other Such collection

Ancient Prayer of Trees

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Ancient Prayer of Trees

Dear Lord,
Most High Creator of

roots
trunks
bark
branches
leaves
and
fruit,

grant me but an inch of loyal dirt,
black and rich with nutrients,
a drop of cooling water,
and the gentle warmth of morning sun.

I’ll share my shade with all who linger,
and cope
(as best I can)

with rope swings,

heart carvings,
(Phil Loves Katie)

hardheaded woodpeckers,
and rickety tree houses.

One more thing:
please, please, oh please
forgive me
for bearing silent witness to

lynchings.

Amen

. . . j
from the Wonderments and Such collection

Apprenticed

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Apprenticed

I tend my garden 
with memories—

Gramma, soft, shuffling, 
shawled against early air,
 
grumbling disapproval,
scolds her reluctant roses.

Later, mimicking a 
nodding sentry from

her rocking chair post 
upon the porch,

teeth foundering 
in a stale glass of water,

mumbles,

“Where is that worthless boy?”

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

Hot Stuff

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Hot Stuff

Whenever my
ego fluffs up
and
gets in the way
of 

humility,

i
remember me

how little i know

of 

auto mechanics,
pie crust,
algebra,

and especially

the unfathomable riddle called

Women.

Then things even out
 real fast.

. . . j
from the Wonderments and Such collection

Deny It Not

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Deny It Not

We are of the sea
and of the caves,
though 

time 

has rinsed us clean
of these dim 
memories.


Yet we still need
to splash about, 
and explore dark 

spaces.


Yes, we have
forgotten whence 
we came,

but  

our desperate thirst 
for water— 

our voracious appetite 
for meat—

and 

our hideous capacity 
for violence—

abate not.

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

Mr. Iffy

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Mr. Iffy

When an orchard whispers

“The apples will be ripe in October,”

that is God’s absolute truth
and we may put our trust therein.

But, when a man calls to say

“I'll meet you in an hour,”

that is an estimate,
and we would be wise

not to confuse the two.

. . . j
from the Wonderments and Such collection

A Morgue Experience

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A Morgue Experience

There is a most primitive wailing sound— 
a stricken keening of utter despair—

a mother’s awful symphony 

of savage tongue,
throbbing throat, 
and ruined heart.

Identity must be determined. 

A son? Handsome youth cut down? 
A daughter? Blooming beauty snuffed? 

Father, steeped in rage, refuses to go, 
preferring to drink himself numb, 

and lay blame at a careless God’s doorstep.

There lurks a hidden cavity,
a storage packet of sudden death, 
murky beneath dark, wet streets.

An officer of Laws for the Living 

escorts Mother down a dim hallway 
to a large viewing window where a
teenage boy lies in state under bright lights 

and hideous shroud of white sheet.

The blanched face revealed— 

Sightless eyes cannot see Mother,
Stopped arms cannot hug Mother, 
Silent voice cannot greet Mother,
Sealed lips cannot kiss Mother farewell.  

Comes the keening.

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

School of Hard Knocks

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School of Hard Knocks

I can insert key to lock,
peel an orange,
squeeze foot to socks—

but

I didn’t earn a 
Harvard Law degree,
or Stanford PhD—

I’m not a Rhodes scholar, 
or Oxford Fellow—

Cal Tech Engineer,
or win Summa Cum Laude.

 Lacking even a house cat’s
 portion of common sense,

I’ve had the common professors,

Mr. Mistake 
and Ms. Miscalculation,

suffered the lessons learned,
passed the potholes by

and taken my honors with pride
in life's hard knocks. 

. . . j