childish things

always there is a last time
something was put away, left alone,
out of sight and mind and
leaving limited marks on being –
gone are small shoes and
tight knit caps,
given over to those that fit them,
yet we remember reading them,
and the book-bound dragons play idly in memory
as we muster for books on Good Topics,
on Adult Subjects,
on war and money and sex,
until these, too,
with tweed suits and last decade’s ties
are put away some last time.

birthday

Old enough to beat a tune
sweeter than a bludgeon;
young enough to be just,
or a quaint,
querulous curmudgeon –
the snow with its confetti crash
bends an eyelash, bowed to hell
the world is one year older
As am I,
and all is well.

Town Tracking

here a pair of large tracks
splay-footed, rough gait,
some big man lurching back from
bars –
and there, small shoes,
angled straight,
good form
spaced for a run,
maybe just cold for the hell of it –
and in this spot are many tracks,
sure-footed, limping,
converging like a deer-path
people coming, people going,
crunching snow and
oblivious
leading right to
where they’re bedded down –
like fawns that have never known a hunt.

Inside

Hands, feet, wheels, doors,
all stuck fast,
clinging tight, just as we do –
there is nothing left to do but thaw,
read a book or skim,
call and send well-wishes
and be grateful
that now, here,
we may be so together
even while we’re alone.

Frozen Pipes

It’s too cold to breathe tonight
too cold to laugh,
to sing,
words are frozen as they’re spoke
and drop
like dying birds
shattering into the pavement.
Some day it will be warm,
some day,
but those birds will still be dead
and the pipes will not
un-burst.

Ocean Orphans

They say it started in the waters
hydrogen, oxygen,
fathers, mothers,
shallowing up and
settling near,
dirt honed by
the touch of sea
we dribble along the wettened earth
always by the oceans dear –
our skins floating on
inborn seas.

And now,
stretching inland sweeps,
does the ocean
roil and weep
to know of men who live in
Kansas or Nevada,
never hearing their mother’s voice?

substitutions as needed

no chef would view the plate
and risk the hazard of guessing
a recipe formed this;
but the kitchen,
being poorly stocked,
contained enough just-as and
almost-quites,
enough
off-choices and
subtly brilliant ones –
if the result is more delicious
perhaps the recipe is wrong.

clocking in

love is a skill
that must be trained.

how terrible to think,
how horrible to say,
two, three, six,
twelve hours a day
active practice,
no slouching,
learn the ten-and-two’s ,
how to keep the hands cupped,
the lefty-loosie truths of it.

There are tips and tricks
to fake it for a while,
but remember how much practice
may go into a smile.