Category Archives: children

My old man

To be honest, it’s not clear how you got this job.
Maybe you applied, maybe it just happened
to you like a piano falling out of a third story
window, jingling down black keys of destiny
on your incipient male-pattern baldness.

You try and learn how to love. For a guy that’s not
easy. Mostly all you have known is movies with
explosions and lots of cleavage. And now, all of a
sudden, you’re watching a tiny chest rising and falling,
speechless before one of the wonders of the world.

Over the years, you walk the wire like you own dad did.
Sternly setting your deckchair at strategic points on the
beach, sometimes for well-considered reasons, sometimes
just to prove that you are still bigger and wiser, and
that you do in fact exist and matter somehow in the universe.

But meanwhile there’s the constant undertow. The cloud
of unknowing pierced by unforgiving questions. The realization
that maybe you don’t understand at all. That all you have
succeeded in becoming is a carbon copy of your own father.
And in a way, you don’t mind. As long as the kid is okay.

But then comes the night. And you’re lying awake, listening.
Listening for the front door to open and close. Listening
for voices to tell you that actually nothing is wrong. Listening
to the vast silence. Listening to your baby crying, because
his whole body hurts and he doesn’t understand why.

Written for a prompt over at the wonderful Poetic Bloomings site.

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Orlando’s practicing

Orlando’s practicing
a word he heard me say
last Friday at the store.
I thought I whispered it,
but now I’m not so sure.

Orlando’s practicing
and I can’t make him stop.
He’s having too much fun
at how folks choke each time
he lets his foul mouth run.

Orlando’s practicing
was cute at first. But now
the parents of his friends
won’t let us visit them
until this blue streak ends.

Orlando’s practicing
again tonight. I tried
distraction, but no luck.
He simply scrunched his eyes
and burbled, “Daddy! F***!”

A goofy monchielle for frends over at the dVerse Poet’s Pub.
This may, or may not, be a true story…

The hand you are dealt

A good friend will cause you pain today. She
will not see why even if you try to
explain. You will think you are going mad.

You will wish to kill someone. Try not to.
Your other children will suffer enough
without you compounding things. Suck it up.

Try to avoid awards ceremonies.
Jealousy is ugly. Schadenfreude
is also to be frowned upon. Mostly.

Church will become the worst hour of your week.
You will spend the whole time praying no one
turns around. God will appear not to care.

There are no trophies for surviving.
You will not sleep well tonight, or ever.
You would not trade places with anyone.

(a fortune-cookie poem, originally written for a prompt from Robert Lee Brewer over at Poetic Asides)

None of us are ready

None of us are ready
Tonight. We float in a
Sea of Tranquility
As the tide washes us
In, inexorably.

None of us are ready
And yet it is time. We
Travel after midnight
One hand upon the stars
As a new voice sings bright.

None of us are ready,
Our arms still tangled in
Each other’s hair, we lift
This wet thing to our chest
And say, “This is a gift

None of us are ready
To receive.” And it’s true.
Our swift humanity
Is chastened before such
Responsibility.

None of us are ready,
We are all newborn here.
But there is grace, and soon
Joy as we stumble home
Kissed by the mother moon.

The grammar involved in “none is” vs. “none are” makes my head spin.  I ended up sticking with “none are” though “none is” might work better in some people’s eyes.  Hope you can get past this issue to appreciate the sentiment of the poem!  For friends at the marvelous dVerse Poets Pub.

Pumping Iron

We started pumping iron on the porch
The summer that our river burst its banks.

He stood in the driveway with his shirt off
Glistening like a sword drawn from the sea,

Shouting, I am strong now. What have you left
To offer, old man, before I slay you?

Eye-to-eye we fought to keep our balance
Two strangers astride the Leviathan

Each one thrilled and yet terrified. It was
Blood-lust and it was hubris that tossed us

Until we washed up on our backs, arms raised
And flexed and raised again without talking.

Something’s blocking the sun, I said at last.
Your pride, he spat. No, I smiled, your biceps.

Recital

I don’t know where your black shoes are.
We don’t have time to curl your hair
At this point, my dear, I really don’t care
Just grab your stuff and get in the car.

Why do we do this to ourselves each May,
This ritual humiliation we call the recital?
Can this two-hour battle of flesh versus machine be as vital
To our children’s development as their teachers say?

Leave your sister alone, you unrepentant brat!
Can’t you see she’s having nervous fits
About the middle section of this piece? It’s got her scared to bits.
And don’t say that dress makes her look fat.

Look, I love soccer, but I wouldn’t love it more if you made me
Take a penalty in front of a thousand people, for crying out loud.
Why can’t these poor frightened souls be allowed
To play for fun at home instead of out where everyone else can see?

Oh gosh, there’s your grandma in the second row.
All her friends from church have come along
To hear you play your two-finger version of a patriotic song.
You’d better stop your tears, or all the makeup stains will show.

I’m all for music lessons, please don’t get me wrong. I’m quite aware
They teach us discipline, which is of course right and good.
But somewhere I think we crossed the line, and what could
Have been encouraging to kids has instead become a collective nightmare.

There she is, under the lights. She looks so innocent
Sitting on the piano stool, preparing to do violence
To America the Beautiful. In her defense
The outfit’s pretty, even if her playing’s only twenty-five percent.

You show me a gifted pianist playing Chopin out his mind,
I’ll see your smug little prodigy and raise you
Five hackers lurching sweat-drenched and distraught through
Fur Elise like a drunken typing pool. Full house beats one-of-a-kind.

Oh, well done, you were divine, a taste of heaven to the ear!
These flowers are a token of my love and great esteem.
You are so talented and brave.  Let’s go get the largest ice cream
We can find, and forget this charade until we have to do it all again next year.

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