Friday, December 16, 2011

Poopy

Everything is poopy

Coats are poopy

Socks are poopy

Matchbox cars are poopy

Poopy is a popular lyric in Christmas songs and

Popular songs and

The alphabet song and

Poopy is served for dinner and

Breakfast and

Lunch

Quite often I too am poopy

Life is poopy

Funny is poopy and

For a three year old

Poopy is funny

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

An Inch Away

She is about an inch away

Big old smile across most of her face

Eyes barely open

I doubt she can see but

I’m holding her five feet up in the air

So she probably doesn’t have to

She doesn’t have to smile either but

She is

Her face is full of it

If her eyes were open enough so that you could tell

You could see it there too

I can see it everywhere but

I can’t look at it for too long

It’s just too much

Too close

Too real

Too random and

Gone too fast but

What can you do exceptt smile back

When it’s right there

Only an inch away

Thursday, December 08, 2011

A Perfect Night

A ride in a horse drawn wagon

While eating fifty cent cupcakes and

Twelve and a half cent chocolate chip cookies

Christmas carols and above freezing temperatures

A photo with Santa Claus

Complete with two happy children

Only partial parental intrusion and

A Candy cane

Not eaten but only licked through the plastic

Just minor tantrums upon arriving home past bedtime and

Through it all a full moon

Illuminating a perfect night and

All of its flaws

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Waiting for a sign

When a tsunami is about to hit

The water recedes

It’s kind of a nice feature

If nothing else

It gives you an opportunity to glance around and

Take stock of the way things are

While they still are

It’s too bad that

Levittown

Isn’t anywhere near the coast

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Monday, December 05, 2011

There he is

There he is

Holding a six inch artificial tree

Screaming at someone

Anyone

To cut off a branch and

Why wouldn’t he

After watching me

Do the same thing to the big tree

That is

Cut branches off and

Scream

Now he has a tree and

It’s his turn and

I’m going to let him have it

I have a small branch from the big tree and

A pair of scissors and

He only just turned three two days ago so

His little button up shirt

Blue pant

Blue sock

Brown shoe

Scowl wearing self

Will soon be off to other pursuits but

This is his time and

There he is

Friday, December 02, 2011

Cheesy Christ

When I realized that even almost three year olds have crosses to bear too

We were decorating a cake together

After seeking consent

I had ducked out of the room for some adult reason

Like filling prescriptions or

Using the toilet

Stepped on a large piece of glass

Started bleeding and

Told him about it

He was sitting on the counter in the kitchen

Just out of sight and

A long way from the floor

My immediate concern was getting the compression stocking off

Before it did too much to aid the flow of blood

His immediate concern

Was being concerned

He told me I was OK

That I shouldn’t bleed

That I couldn’t bleed and

Then

When I kept talking about bleeding

He said

“Cheesy Christ, stop scaring me.”

I smiled

Told him I was fine

Got my band aid and

Joined him back at cake

I called his mother too

Of course

I had to share the vision

Licorice

Rolled out tootsie rolls

Frosting

Blood and

On its way out the door

Where I’d just helped him out it

A little cross

With a big macaroni nailed to it

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Negotiations

If I had the choice of heading up
Negotiations with
Terrorists
Kidnappers or
Nearly three year old boys
I couldn't give a quick answer
Because
While terrorists and kidnappers tend to carry weapons
So do three year olds and
Three year olds are less inhibited
Besides
Terrorists and kidnappers are quieter
More logical and
Able to wipe their own rear ends and
Negotiating with them brings more mystique
More acclaim and accolades and adulation
A modicum of wealth
While
Three year olds
Only offer things like giggles and
Smiling eyes

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Of Endings

Some trees are still full of leaves
But they are in the minority now
Soon all the trees will be bare
Only a few shriveled leaves hanging on in the crisp air
A fate that was clear from the moment
The first leaves appeared in March or April
A fate that shadowed every summer day
Like a sky full of puffy white clouds
A fate that is now heavy in the air
Seemingly pulling the leaves off of the trees
The ones that are still full of leaves

A Provisions List for Grandma

Two percent Milk
Soy milk
Big yogurts (strawberry banana and peach)
Cottage cheese
Applesauce (natural … no sugar added)
Cheese (doesn't matter what kind, but it should come in a blue package
Edamame (frozen in the shell)
Cheerios
Honey nut cheerios
Rice crispies or rice chex
Raisin bran
Fruit (it doesn't matter what kind, it's only a prop)
Whole wheat toast
Whole wheat crackers (round preferably)
Chicken nuggets (Aldi brand if possible/if you want your grandson to eat them)
Whole wheat pasta
Mac and cheese
Diet coke
Granola bars (some hard and some soft so that everybody can complain)
Canned black olives
Canned corn
Goldfish crackers (hide these)
Gummi vitamins
Valium (could be for anyone)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Doing Nothing

For at least ten minutes
I barely move my left hand
As I type
Because
There is a Cat’s head resting on it and
A cat’s purr
Is drowning out the sound of the computer and
Because
I realize now
More than ever
That sometimes
All you are being asked to do
Is nothing

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Reporting Back at The End of the Day

“Mom …
The heart beats loud not scary I pushed buttons and heart beat hear dolphin up top tiger and bunny fast boom boom boom boom boom I in heart I in train big train and train in box both move but in box little other train big Daddy ask Sissie if she need to go to bathroom Sissie says no We see blood Sissie only have a little blood but Daddy has lot of blood We see show two pieces of glass dark not scary Sissie scared I not scared we do sports room too then we go home”

Friday, November 11, 2011

Present

Eating cheerios out of a green plastic bowl and
Bouncing up and down
Silently
Not watching me work
Not talking to me
Not really waiting for anything to happen but
Nonetheless there
Just there
Holding on to the edge of my desk
Bouncing and
Eating cheerios

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Yearning for the egg

My son’s stuffed turtle wants to go back to the egg
I heard him say it through the monitor tonight and
Breathed a sigh of relief
I’d been worried about the little guy
Shoved into a little plastic van or
My old Playskool mailbox
Sleeping under the covers and
Under more than just the covers
Periodically forced into the washing machine and
Then the dryer
Occasionally ending up under the seat in the car or
In the stroller
Yesterday closed in a big soup pot
With a lot of plastic vegetables
I’d pictured it as a prison
But now
Well now I know he might have been swimming
Not dwelling on how he can’t pull in his arms and legs but
Just floating around on a big plastic carrot or
Fennel bulb and
Enviously eyeing
The wooden egg

Monday, November 07, 2011

Joe Frazier ... in the 14th round again

Joe Frazier is in hospice
He has liver cancer and
May not make it to the end of 2011
Though I’m sure he wants to but
He didn’t make it to the end of that last fight with Ali either and
He wanted to
He could barely see and
Was taking a beating and
When most of us would have headed for the exit
Of our own volition
He wanted to continue
He wanted to continue
But he didn’t
He couldn’t
His trainer stopped the fight
Frazier protested but
It was out of his control and
Now
Joe Frazier is in hospice and
He’s still not eloquent
Not flashy and
Not giving up
And
He’s still not in control

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Climbing Everest

At four thirty in the morning
The stairs
Seem like the Himalayas
So maybe
If I put my son on the top of K-2 or
Everest and
Had him scream that he couldn’t find his stuffed turtle
I could reach the summit
Maybe if I had him ride in a car
A few paces ahead of me
Screaming about how the covers were tangled
I could run another marathon and
Break four hours though
His sister might have to be sleeping in the car next to him
It’s really too bad there is no place to put him
On the other side of a completed novel or
A good paying and interesting job but
There isn’t
It’s just easier to put him to bed
In his crib
Upstairs in Levittown and
That’s OK because
It would be awfully hard
To go back to sleep right away
After climbing Everest

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Of Purple Rooms and Promises

I want my room to be purple again
It’s the cry of every two year old boy
At 9:45 at night
A few days after his room
The one he took from his parents
Ceased to be decorated in shades of purple
Meant originally to be a backdrop for
Miniature Zen gardens
Bubbling fountains
Large O’Keefe flower prints and
Bamboo shades
A reality that never completely materialized or
Dissipated
Until last week
When the primer went on
Followed by the beautiful blue
That’s what it was called
Beautiful blue
And beautiful and
Fresh and
Smelly it was and
Still is
Even tonight
In the dark
When
More than an hour after being put into bed
My son lies in his bed
Screaming for the dark
Dirty
Purple to
Return and
I
Sitting in my little orange bedroom
Originally supposed to be the office
Hear him
Loud and clear

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Then

We are
Then
We aren’t
Then we aren’t
Then
Then is the edges of your fingertips and
The hairs on your arms
It’s when you publish a new blog entry
It’s in between your daughter hopping out of your car at 8:52 and
Getting back in at 11:49
It’s lying next to her
Or him
When you are still naked and
Your mind hasn’t moved on to whether or not you need to buy kleenex
It’s when you take your very last breath
It is then
Then it isn’t
We are
Then
We aren’t

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

October Snow

Leaves loaded with snow
Sails on wooden vessels
All running aground

A Long Halloween Day

Today ... I Burned the candle at both ends
And in a pumpkin

At least this way there is a light in my eyes and
I have a radiant smile

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lonely Demouement

An older white woman
A little on the heavy side
Wearing a blue dress
Sitting in a white chair
On the grass
In the middle of a quarter mile track
Under clear blue skies
With not a cloud in sight and
Sweat starting out from her white wicker hat and
Down her neck
No expression at all on her face

Today I learned that my mother in law’s grandmother
Collapsed and
Died
At the high school graduation of her son

I never met her
Never knew a thing about her
Until today
I Still haven’t laid eyes on a picture of her or
Talked about her with anyone who has
But I can see her and

It’s hot
There is a program in her hand
A white handkerchief on her lap and
She is sitting by herself even
Though there are rows and rows of chairs in the grass and
A stage
With even more chairs and
A lectern
In front of where she is sitting
On that quarter mile track
On a day in early June
Expressionless
Motionless and
Alone

Thursday, October 27, 2011

In With the Cold

The air conditioner
Leaves a wet trail across the room
A cold breeze behind it

Evolution

My father has hired an interior decorator
It took him over seventy years to do it
But the man who rebuilt engines
Fished, trapped, and
Shot his finger off
Has hired an interior decorator and
Is mildly satisfied so far
My father’s mildly satisfied is most folks ecstatic
So it’s a noteworthy development
Of course
Truth be told
The last live fish he was associated with
Not in a bowl
Could have easily fit in one and
Was an isolated incident
At the end of an eight
Nine or
Ten year olds pole
Since then
Retirement
Car racing
Photography and
Genealogy
Have all come calling so
Why not
Swatches of fabric and
A whole medley of taupes
Now
I’ve never rebuilt an engine or
Trapped anyone or anything other than myself and
That poor little guy I lucked upon in the Lake
While dad was sailing
So as soon as I have the money
I’m probably ok
To get some professional help
Capturing a divine design

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

From Moment to Moment

It was almost five
I was standing in the middle of the kitchen
Cat not fed
Dinner not started
Dishes not done
Laundry needing to be fluffed and folded
Completely unsure of what I needed to do next and
What I had meant to do next and
Whether I should be worried
That my son was lying across the coffee table on his stomach
It was one of those moments and
I knew I had to do something
So I said something instead
“I’ve lost my train of thought”
With that my son sprang up and ran into the kitchen
Wearing the look of someone who has just gotten a job
After having been out of work for more than a year
“I’ll help you daddy”
“I’ll help you find it” and
Just like that
It was a completely different kind of moment
Even though it was still almost five

Monday, October 24, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Cost of Color

What is the price of all that color
Oranges that conjure everything from pumpkins to
Carrots to
Habanera peppers to …
Well … oranges and
Along with reds bring a bit of heat to
Cool autumn days
Reds that remind one of flames and
Fire trucks and
Antique Chinese furniture
Yellows that conjure up
Goldenrod and
Summer dresses and
The man with the yellow hat
Greens that stick around too long
Reminding us of their own beauty and
Kiwis and
Grapes and
Tree frogs and
Themselves
Their forest
The summer forest
The one whose beauty lies in its tranquility
Its youth
Its promise
Its affordability
But not usually on the forest floor
At what price do we chase the color
What is the cost of wanting more

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Reality Check

He says I’m mean and rude
I tell him I love him
So I know that it’s true
That he’s almost three and
I’m really a father
With a son

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Little Body In Motion

Puddles attract two year old feet
I think it’s a heretofore unknown
Corollary of Newtonian physics
He’s a body in nature and
I’m the external force
The one that washes the socks and pants and
That’s just the way it is
He doesn’t like wet feet and
As much as I dislike laundry
I abhor being the heavy or
Fighting losing battles but
We’re both law abiders and
Once a body is in motion …

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Tooth

By Seren and Daddy




It fell out
Today
At nap time
As I was reading
The Berenstain Bears Get in a Fight
It wasn’t first
The first one got lost
Suddenly it just wasn’t there
This one
The second one
I was watching
Feeling
With my tongue
All the time
And then
As I read Berenstain Bears
It was on my tongue
Loose
Free
I took it and
Grunted
Screamed
For my dad
I wanted to tell him
About my tooth
I wanted to tell him
It fell out

Monday, October 17, 2011

Waiting

Sticking up just a little more than it should and
At more of an angle than one would expect
Often wearing just a bit of blood
A gap to its right
(My left)
Showing it the next step
It sits there
Waiting
Maybe hoping not to follow its compatriot
Into the abyss that lurks behind it but
Rather to fall forward
Onto the floor
Into a pillow and
Into history but
Nonetheless
Waiting
Waiting to fall out or
Maybe
Just waiting for the next smile

Thursday, October 13, 2011

An Observer

For the first time I’m watching her
Just watching her
Through a glass window
Unable to yell encouragements
Suggestions
Or anything else
Restrained to the occasional smile
A high five at water break
A hug at the beginning
A hug at the end and
Watching
At school she is out of sight
Out of mind
Once a week though
She is not out of sight or
Out of mind but
Further out of reach than ever before
I could tell myself that
It’s just an hour
That it’s just gymnastics but
I know better
She knows better
Which is why we have those two hugs and
Why we both hug
Squeeze even
Because I’m watching her
For the first time

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

His Expressions of Love

He’s two
Soon to be three and
He was awake
Really awoken
By me
To only me

So I wasn’t expecting much love
Now that his mother and sister had just arrived home

I knew they were home because he told me
Yelled at me really
While jumping up and down
I could hear the jumps in his voice

He had gone to the front door to watch for their arrival
Now they were home and
I didn’t expect to see him back in the office
In fact
Since it was on me to make sure he didn’t run out and get run over
I was finishing up what I had been doing before having to wake him up
Quickly
When he walked in
I thought maybe he wanted us to greet them together

Then he grunted
Twice
I asked him if he was OK
He answered with one word
Poop

Later
At dinner
After I had applied a little unwelcome discipline
He came over
Sat in my lap
Passed gas and
Left for his mother’s lap

I suppose that it’s when you least expect it and
In the form you least expect it
When true love arrives
Especially when it’s from someone who is
Two
Soon to be three

Friday, October 07, 2011

Consignment Sale Time

It’s consignment sale time
Time to take what hasn’t been given away
And try to sell it
Before we continue giving it away to
It’s our capitalistic money grubbing moment
It’s time to wash
Press
Tag
Deliver
And most importantly
Somewhere in the middle of all of that
To sort it
To take the memories
And put them in chronological order
Before you sell them
Is it:
0-3 months
3 months
3-6 months
6 months
6-9 months
9 months
9-12 months
12 months
12-18 months
18 months
18-24months
24 months
2T
3T
4T
4
5
6
7
8
10
12
14
Where does it belong
How much is it worth
To you
To someone else who needs it
How much money
How much guilt of every variety
How much time
When most of it will end up going to friends
Friends of friends
The thrift shop
And could go there with less intentionality
Less sorting
Less grief
Bit what would we do with the tagging gun
When consignment sale time rolled around again

Thursday, October 06, 2011

A Reminder

She yelled at him for disagreeing with her about how he felt
He yelled at me for not letting him spread yogurt on the table
I yelled at them for …
Well they weren’t good reasons
But whatever the reasons
We were all yelling and
We kept yelling
With a few ceasefires sprinkled in
Until she was in her room reading to her dolly and
He and I were cleaning up a juice spill
He hugged me
I said
“It’s been a rough one huh?” and
He said
“Dada, I had fun today” and
I remembered our morning together and
Our trip to the orchard and
Why I gladly put up with all the noise and mess

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Wiggle Room

I haven’t wiggled it yet
Haven’t even really looked at it
I’ve hugged her after she bit into a tough nugget
I’ve seen the blood on the tablecloth
I’ve talked about it with her
I’ve listened to her talk about it
I’ve listened to her talk about talking about it
I’ve talked to her mother about it and
Started looking for the tooth pillow that I put my baby teeth in
The tooth fairy has even come up in conversation
And I did touch it
For a split second
I didn’t feel it wiggle though
So talking is still fine
Circumstantial evidence is troubling but still deniable
As long as she still wants to marry her brother
Says aminal rather than animal
And I haven’t wiggled it yet

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Standing On a Rock

Standing on a rock
In the middle of a trail
Mud and wetness all around
A two year old on my shoulders
Sandals with socks on my feet
The socks are dry
The two year old is really almost three
The trail is a swamp in every direction
I’m standing on a rock

Monday, October 03, 2011

A Peek

We had peeked through the fence at the community pool
Closed several seasons now
Grass growing up through the cracks in the pool deck
Paint cracking on the concession stands
We walked by twice
Talked about it each time
Yet it was only on the drive past it
On the way out
That I spied what used to be a little wading pool out of the corner of my eye
I drew his attention to it
By saying something like
Look at the kiddie pool
Then we moved on to other seemingly more pressing matters
Like a debate on why we hadn’t taken the bridge to New Jersey
We didn’t return to it until dinner
When he was sharing his day with mom
Along with his visions of cats and even dogs swimming at the pool
The kitty pool
When he gave me a peek
At cats in swimming suits
And into his head

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

When in Rome

Tussle
Muss
Disarrange
Mess with
Whatever you want to call it
I do it a lot and
Why wouldn’t I
His head is right there
I barely have to move my arm
His hair is right there
Accessible even
Short even
And
Not a curl
Or
Tangle
In sight
Not a scream
Grunt
Or
Other form of protest
In sight
In fact
Sometimes he seems to almost want it
Lingering longer than any two year old would or should
Leaning against my leg and holding on and waiting
So that
All I really
Have to do
Is
Tussle
Muss
Disarrange
Mess with

Monday, September 26, 2011

Is it too late?

It is late
The kids are asleep and I should be
But I like to linger at this moment
This intersection of
Accomplishment and
Anticipation and
Quiet
I like to reflect on the day
While I listen to the crackle of the baby monitors
I like to choose the moment of my collapse into bed and
Not have exhaustion choose it for me
I like to fill up every minute
With something
Of my own choosing
I’d also like to be an eighteenth century fur trader
Tracking deer through the woods
Hopeful of seeing something for the very first time
The problem is that all too often
It’s not just late
It’s too late

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Find Me a Bus

I don’t know what is more shocking
That I’d die for my daughter
That I’d kill for her
Or that I’d knowingly become the most obnoxious parent in the universe
Maybe it’s that I was tempted to do two of the three during kindergarten orientation
There were no speeding busses to throw myself in front of
So
I was left with the need to strangle
The guy with the ‘100% white meat and proud of it’ tattoo
Standing contentedly in front of a black woman and
Behind an family of South Asian descent and
The teacher who told me that soon
My daughter might be able to read a book to the class
My daughter
Who reads twenty books a day
All by herself
You mutant witch
I wanted to strangle her
While my daughter read a book to her
Then maybe we’d decorate that classroom so it looked more like a kindergarten and
Less like an unusually colorful bureaucrat’s office
It all washed over me in waves
Coming from I have no idea where
My daughter loves school
Is having a great time and
Knows how to read and
Likes her teacher and
That should be all that matters
Should be
Because I know teachers and
Have heard them talk about parents like me
But what if she is sharing grapes with ‘white meat’s son and becomes a bigot
What if her reading goes unrecognized and
She stops and
The waves crash over me again and
I wish there was a bus I could jump in front of

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dad Come Quick

“Dad … come quick
Wyeth is standing in the bathtub and he’s taking off his clothes”

It’s more than a call to duty
It’s a call to responsibility and
It’s a reminder of the consequences of slacking

Do the dishes
Put the food away
Go upstairs
If you stop off at the computer to check e-mail
Or ESPN.com
Or just to breathe alone in silence
Or use the bathroom

Your son will be running around with a shirt on
And nothing else
His little penis jiggling about
Free to do its business anywhere

And if you didn’t catch on when he asked you
During lunch
If tonight was bath night

Then you should be relieved
That he only wants to have a new diaper put on

That he doesn’t leave a stain or stench anywhere

That he is giggling

That all it took was a strip tease to bring you up
While you still had an opportunity
To play the time machine game before nap

Missing out on Paul Revere
Mastodon barbecues
Sleigh rides with Santa
Weightless walks on the moon and Saturn’s rings
And thrilling swims with megalodon

That’s a stiff price to pay for
The latest NFL injury reports
Or even peace and quiet

Missing out on discovering your son standing in the bathtub
Bare bottomed after tearing off his own diaper
Pretending he’s about to head to bed for the night
At half past noon

Well that’s just out of the question

So the lesson is …
Pull away for the not so important stuff
That you have to get done and
Fingers and toes crossed
Dally just long enough
To get the call from up above
A fun time
And hopefully a good story
That you can tell
Later
When the day really is coming to an end

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It's not fall yet

I don’t have to look at the calendar to know that fall has arrived
I saw my daughter this morning
In her purple shirt with the big zebra on it
Complete with hearts and other assorted visual frou-frou
And long sleeves
And a size 5 T sticker
That we peeled off

We left the long sleeves
The girl with the sniffles and hint of a fever
Needed them

I left the sandals
They matched
And cold or no cold
I’m not ready for fall
I’ve still got vegetables coming up in the garden
And a goodbye or two to say to the local water park

Besides
The start of kindergarten was enough
I have been reminded of the tireless march of time
I don’t need long sleeve shirts
And woolen socks
It’s bad enough that Christmas trees are already up at Lowes
It’s bad enough that she is wearing long sleeve shirts
And long pants
To school
Every day of the week

I need a few more weeks of late summer
I need them
But I’m not going to get them
So I will let my daughter’s toes freeze
And mine my son’s too

I don’t have to look at the calendar to know that fall has arrived
So I’m not going to
At least not yet

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Return

I returned from a weekend away
To an afternoon and evening of spontaneous hugs
It’s the best reason I can think of
To want to leave on my own again

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Detroit on My Mind

Detroit on my mind
Or at least on my itinerary
Unexpectedly
I'll be in and out
In an hour
As long as my bags come with me
And I won't come back
At least not on this trip
I'm Just passing through
Like everybody else
There are fewer of us now
Or at least there must be
Who leave the airport
Soon it will just be trappers and farmers again
Soon Detroit will be off my mind
And my itinerary

Unique

I'm afraid that
We are unique
In the way that jeans or sweatshirts tend to be
That our individual stories
Are less about words and messages
Big or little
And more about
The wear and tear we take along the way
I'm hopeful though too
After all
I have always preferred an old and well worn sweatshirt
Complete with stains
Holes
and chewed on drawstrings
To a brand new one

Flying

A sea of white clouds below
An endless blue sky above
Blue jeans and grey shirt in the middle

Monday, September 12, 2011

Temporary Solo Parenting

Kindergarten drop off
Kindergarten pick up
Home reorganization
Teaching
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Bathtime
Tennis lessons
Boo-boos
Finicky cats
Naptime stories
Bedtime stories
The first homework ever
Cleaning
Looking out at the lawn that needs mowing
The carpets that need vacuuming
The papers that need grading
The toilets that need cleaning
The television that needs watching
And writing poetry
I think that if she stayed gone for more than five days
I’d have to drop the poetry

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Pushing Buttons

Push an imaginary button
Make a few lame sound effects
Get pure and honest hysteria
Cackles, giggles, even a dry barking sound
All from laying an index finger against a wall
And adding to the fingerprints and smudges
And add to them is exactly what any sane person would do
Add to them until that part of wall is no longer yellow
Add to them until the gag shows signs of not working
Then you imitate static
Do a little work on the wall with your thumb and forefinger
And sing a song
That gets you more guffaws
Later on
Pushing buttons will have a different connotation
A different result
Now however
It’s a handoff up the gut that gets you eight yards
Every time you run it
Why would you go away from that
Why wouldn’t you keep pushing those buttons

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Blue Jeans

I’m wearing blue jeans
She is too
A back pack lies on the floor in front of her
Nestled amidst the books and granola bar wrappers
One thing that’s not back there is an umbrella
But that’s OK
It’s not raining in the car
And the physical distance from the car to the school isn’t more than a few feet
Besides she won’t hesitate today
No more looking back for her
It’s a new season
For both of us
At least I still look good in blue jeans

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Day Three Drop Off

She got inside
Out of the rain
Then she paused
It was day three
And all that was there to greet her
Was a third grader wearing a yellow sash
Whose attention was focused elsewhere
I wasn’t there either
Not really
I could see her
But I was in the car
Staying dry with her brother
And being moved along
To make room for the cars behind me
All I could do was silently urge her on
Hope for the best
And drive away
Knowing that I got her as far as I could

Monday, September 05, 2011

Uncaused

The uncaused cause of all being
Is either a name of God
Or the look my son gives me
When I pop in on him to see whatever it is he has called me in to see
Maybe he’s wearing my shoes
Maybe he’s wearing blue high heels and a stethoscope
Along with his favorite princess skirt
Maybe he’s hugging the cat
Whatever he is
Doing
There is just the hint of a smile
The rest of it about to explode onto his face
Across the distance between us
And onto mine
Caused
Uncaused
Undeniably holy

Friday, September 02, 2011

His First Football Game

The visiting team
Clad in white
Was running at will on the home team
Clad in red
The lights had probably been on for a while
But now they were noticeable
In the growing darkness
The band had come to life too
So had the teenage flirting
Halftime was definitely in the air
I couldn’t help but wonder
Where he’d be in twelve or thirteen years
When it was halftime
Would he be playing tuba in the band
Shirtless in the stands with a letter painted on his chest
On the field handing out pain
Then I looked at him
Clutching his purple flowery purse
Watching the ‘blue and white team’ chant and flip
All that was missing was his favorite blue princess shoes
My camera too
He looked up
Smiled
Said it was time to go home
We left
Cutting through the throngs of teenagers
Pausing to take one more look at
Red
White
Blue

Thursday, September 01, 2011

my son ... force of nature

You can watch the water creep up the lawn toward your front door
But what else can you do about it

I suppose you could leave
But no one is going to clean it out when you’re gone

Bemoaning all the things you could have done
Such as have the yard graded differently
Is a heck of a lot of fun
And a great way to exercise underutilized higher brain functions
It might even help during the next storm or with the next house

But right now you might as well jump in for a swim
Which might be an option I suppose
If you like risking death by drowning

If electrocution is more your speed
Drag out the shop vac on your front lawn and get to work

Personally, I’ve found it’s better to sit stil
Or pace
In front of a big pictiure window
It’s hard to fight the urge to do something
But a force of nature is not the same as a problem at work
Or a difficult home improvement project
More effort doesn’t automatically lead to better results

My advice would be to put your effort into preparation and patience
And when you’re done
Pull up a chair and a good book

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

in the throes of autumn

Summer is beautiful
If a little garish
Maybe more than a little garish
And more than a little full
Full
Bright
Bold
Blue sky
Blue water
Green grass
White clouds
Visually crisp
Crisp
Like the air in autumn
Like the leaves in autumn
But not like autumn
Autumn
Fall
Beautiful
Stunningly beautiful
In a subtle
Complex
Layered way
That can only belong something in its last throes
Of hope
Saturated with color
Filled to the brim with color
Beauty
So full
That it’s hanging on by a thread
Embracing every day
When the sun still has some real warmth and
There is still a little garishness left in that sky
That bright
Bold
Blue
Sky

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

and God laughs

If there is a God
I think he or she would agree
That it is very funny when my daughter sings
“Teddy Bear Teddy Bear, say your prayers”
And pulls down her pants so that she can point at her underwear
What other response could there possibly be
I wouldn’t want a God that couldn’t laugh at a five year old
And a two year old
Playing the piano and pulling down their pants at the same time
I’m certainly not going to feel guilty that she is five
And when presented with a Teddy Bear who says his prayers
The best explanation she can come up with
Is that the bear is checking his underwear
His ‘pairs’ of underwear
I’m really not worried that so far her exposure to God is
Singing God Bless Africa and
Reading a book about Rosh Hashanah
Mostly because
In addition to hitting her brother and pulling his hair
She hugs him
Tells him she loves him and
Looks out for him when his dad isn’t seeing to his needs in a timely fashion
And because I am betting that if there is a God
He or she has a great sense of humor

Monday, August 29, 2011

lying down on the job

He says “good night daddat”
“Time go sweep”
Or some equivalent
And I try to count to three
Before he asks the next question
This morning most of the questions are about electricity
And what gets plugged in
Things like clocks and televisions
And what doesn’t
Things like closets
This morning neither the closet
Nor the clock
Nor the light
Is helping me
Figure out how many more questions I should field
I know it was twenty to six when I came up
But I have no idea about the passage of time since
Other than to say that there’s been time for several big gusts of wind
And time for me to attempt to explain electricity to a two year old
Luckily he isn’t connecting the wind to the lack of electricity
He isn’t really sure how or why he got carried downstairs in the middle of the night
He isn’t sure why we are now upstairs lying on sissy’s mattress on the floor of Sissy’s room
He doesn’t know the progression hi mother and I went through last night
From hurricane to tornado warning
From they’re ok upstairs in their beds
To she’ll be ok away from the window in the middle of the room
To what about him under the window
Through visions of trees crashing through the roof from every direction
To the late night transfer he doesn’t remember
He just likes the glow in the dark stars on sissy’s ceiling
And he likes it when I sing ‘This Little Light of Mine”
He even likes to pretend to sleep next to me
Almost as much as he likes to ask questions
Which is why he says “good night daddat” so often
And why I count to three

Friday, August 26, 2011

Love Hurts

He kissed my nose today
Practically cleaned out my nostrils with his tongue
Last Tuesday he head butted my groin
And it wasn’t the first time
He’s poked my eye
Bit my shoulder
Stepped on my leg hairs …
Which you can laugh about if you want
You can also have it happen to you next time
His newest thing
Has been to try and pull out my beard
One hair at a time
All the while talking about how he wants his own
Apparently he is going to get his own beard
One hair at a time
He doesn’t always pull the beard hair
Sometimes he runs his fingers along it
And he frequently does the same to my hair
Especially when he is sitting on my shoulders
Feet dangling down
And kicking me in the collar bone
The truth is
That I love every moment of it
The truth is
Love hurts

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Shaken

Earthquakes and hurricanes rattle some folks
But not me
When the whole east coast was shaking
I was lying down
To the left of two
Fidgeting
And occasionally fighting
Children
I didn’t feel a thing
I haven’t even acknowledged the hurricane at all
What choice do I have
After I was done reading her
Hurricane by David Wiesner
And Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey
My daughter would always ask whether we had hurricanes in Levittown
And I would say no
Which is
Coincidentally
What I said about earthquakes
No I’m not rattled by earthquakes
Explaining the world to a child, however …

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Adaptation

Jordan never complained
Never got underfoot
He just sat back
Tail curled around his body
And waited
Waited for Wally
The Siamese
To wail and moan
And generally drive me crazy
Until I broke down
And gave them food
Wally’s been gone more than a year now
And Jordan has stepped up
He follows me around
Plaintively meowing
For hours until he gets fed
Determined to have me feed him
Or trip over him and fall to my death
Every time he begins his hunger driven rampage
I think of my son
Waiting quietly
For his sister to stop talking

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Space Exploration

At kindergarten orientation
After the striking teachers had abandoned their picket line
After the kindergarten teacher had finished telling us parents
All about what we could and should be doing
To make her life easier
Without having said more than a word or two
To the students themselves
And after we had taken the tour
Led by a first grader
Who was cute beyond words
Or cute before words
Talking softly as she walked ahead of us
Her back to us
After all of that
My oldest daughter
The five year old
The kindergartner to be
Rode a bus
All by herself
For the very first time
It was meant to be a practice run
For the kids who will be taking the bus in the fall
My daughter’s a walker
So I don’t know what it was for her
But she waved
She waved a lot
She waved as the bus sat still
As the bus drive out of sight
As the bus drove into sight
And as she disembarked
Then she gave me a big hug
I don’t know what it was for me either
Beyond a parental milestone
I thought I wouldn’t have
Come to life
An opportunity to calmly and in passing
Remark upon the passage of time
While at the same time watch my two year old son
Run around me in ever widening circles
I don’t really know what to make of any of it
But I know that thinking about that bus ride now
Makes me think about the planets
Revolving around the sun
And the stars
And meteors
And asteroids
And how from earth
It all seems so much simpler
So much more mysterious
So much more beautiful
From a distance

Monday, August 22, 2011

when in doubt ... say thanks

A red car sweatshirt
Has driven in
And now out
Of our lives
It’s only been a few hours
But I’m already not sure of much beyond the fact that it was red
And had a picture of a car on it
I know there were words on it
But I’m not really sure which ones
Was it car
Red
Red and car
Don’t even ask about the size
Because I don’t remember
It was somewhere between 18 months
And 2T
Or 24 months
But I don’t know for sure
And I surely don’t know what the difference is between 2T and 24 months
Is it like the difference between a gift and charity
Both are free
Just like this red sweatshirt
Was for us
And will be for a little boy in Michigan
I suppose both can be passed on too
Or is it on to
I’m not sure
I’m not ever sure
Currently I’m not sure of enough to tell a story
About a red sweatshirt
Of indeterminate size
With some sort of connection to cars
I’m just barely sure enough to
Be very thankful
And be able to write a poem

Friday, August 19, 2011

Gift Exchange

A kiss on the cheek
That’s what I gave to him
As I held him in my arms
On the way out of the restaurant and
Into the rain
For his gift to me
He rested his head on my shoulder and
Closed his eyes
For a moment
As if we were dry and alone

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Give and Take

Grandad and Grandma arrive
To hugs
Squeals
Bouncing
Jumping and
Endless sharing
Red pencil case
Pre-school scrap book
Jewelry box
Thomas the Train
Scissors
Drawing after drawing
Homemade books
Musical performances and
Stories
Lots of stories
Nonstop stories
Many of which require translation
But nothing else
Except the occasional smile
Which is fine by me
Sometimes its good to take rather than give and
All I want to do is take it all in

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Tease

“I no nap today”
“I don’t want nap”
“No sleep now”
Spoken with a hint of a whine and
Pursed lips
Of the kind that should accompany a furrowed brow

“Why not?”
Hands in motion but
Eyes focused on the clean diaper
Lower lip trapped between teeth

Silence
Followed by eye contact

“I teasing”
An emergent smile
Connects with a slight narrowing of the eyes and
More besides

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

full of shit

Moist and tussled hair and
Sticky forehead
Leaning against my shoulder
Sweaty little hands
Touching my skin
Heat building up between us
Just as the moan is building
Just as the pressure must be building inside of him
He wants me to change his diaper
He thinks that will draw something out
Magically
I want him to eat raisins
In between grunts and
Bending in half
He asks me why I keep talking about raisins and
Tells me he doesn’t want them
He never
Stops asking questions
Voicing his opinion
Refusing to eat non- dairy products or
Hugging me
Never
Ever
That’s who he is now
Wet head and all
Wet hands and all
Empty diaper and all
He’s full of shit and
Unashamed

Monday, August 15, 2011

The River's Source

Words fall out
Like water over a cliff
Sometimes they trickle over the edge
Like a light drizzle
Cold
And early in Spring
Sometimes they fall fast
And loud
Like the faucet in your tub
On full blast
Hot
And steamy

Who knows for sure
Why it is one
Or the other
A long snowy winter
Heavy Spring rains
Sandbagging upstream
A long dry spell
Damming
Natural or otherwise

Kids are kind of like sandbags
Piles and piles of sandbags
Kids are like two months of sun
Ninety four degree sun
Heat index well over one hundred
Kids are like a really big Chinese style hydroelectric dam
All shiny, new, and effective
Kids are all of this and more
Sometimes on the same day

The truth is that these days
The words come faster and looser
And louder
Than I would like
More often
Than they probably should
The sandbags
Droughts
And dams
Take some blame
More than they should
Because sometimes
When the water is roaring over the falls
I forget
That I control the headwaters

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hallelujah

The US Army Corps of Engineers diverted the Wolf River in 1960
Turning the old mouth of the river
Into Wolf River Harbor
Setting the scene
For Jeff Buckley to drown
Thirty seven years later
Before his version of
Hallelujah
Would rise up the charts
It was written by Leonard Cohen
So he sung it first
John Cale covered it first
It’s been sung in Spanish
Covered by a Norwegian quartet
Appeared in Shrek
Which used Cale’s version in the movie and
Rufus Wainwright’s in the soundtrack
If you know who Tim Minchin is
You might be surprised to know that he’s covered it too
Maybe even with a canvas bag but
Everyone’s covered it
Even Bon Jovi and K.D. Lang
Everyone
When my daughter asks for Lula
Though
It’s Buckley’s version she wants
She doesn’t care about
Biblical references or
Multiple Hallelujahs or
Who wrote it first
Or who is the funniest
Or got the most money from DreamWorks
Or is a lesbian
She likes the one I played for her on YouTube
She likes it when I sing it
She likes it when we cuddle and
I sing Lula and
So do I
Even though
I hear Buckley’s voice in my head every time I sing it and
I can hear the cold and broken hallelujah and
I can picture Wolf River harbor
On the night of May 29th
I just rub her back and
Sing hallelujah

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Maybe hell has frozen over ... Maybe it's just juice

The background is
That juice is strictly a pre-nap drink
Candy is illegal
We’re trying the war on drugs approach and
War isn’t far off from the truth

The story is
That tonight
Mom had some juice
Right before pajama time and
He saw it and
He wanted it and
He wailed about it
For a good fifteen minutes
Until
After
Crackers and
Shoulder rides and
Dance numbers
Had failed
The offer of the gummi vitamins we’d forgotten about at dinner
Offered up a glimpse of a long forgotten seizure and
I want juice was replaced by
I want candy
I want candy lasted until an Ice pop surfaced
An Ice pop is
Frozen juice

The moral is
Unclear
Part Sisyphus
Part David Copperfield
All trial and error
The messiness of life on the frontlines
The reality of being a parent

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Another day in the life

Through the monitor at six in the morning
Comes a call and response
Yes
No
Yes
No
The volume goes up
Down a little
And then up some more
But the refrain itself is constant
Turns out my son was saying yes
And his stuffed turtle was saying no
After barely enough time to get the yes no story straight
The other one comes awake
With a moan and a wail
As usual
Before everyone is even dressed
The cat throws up
Twice
No three times
No four
And I’ll need to wash that compression stocking
Once everyone is seated
I check with him again
He affirms he wants chex
I check another time after I ask if he wants milk
And warn him that unless he eats this he won’t be getting anything else
He begins to eat
I go to collect my own breakfast
And before my rear end is in my chair
He has pushed the bowl of chex all over the floor
He wants cheerios
I wonder if he realized that this was the only way he would have gotten cheerios
Without having to eat the chex
He picks at the cheerios
And is ready to watch television
When sissy is done they watch television
And I almost get half an hour to shower
If only Curious George hadn’t been so scary
The first half hour of the morning goes by quickly
We travel to Rome
Head up and down the Spanish steps
And then go to Venice
And travel around on a queen size air mattress
Er … a gondola
After we fight over who gets to sit where
We choose to take separate boats
And converse using the tin can phone
A little bit of tempting fate with markers later
And we find ourselves at an early lunch
And then a play date at the park
Adult conversation
Playground fun
And only one foot in the lake
Things are starting to move fast
Because nap is on the horizon
It seems like I’m hardly done negotiating book selection
And she is giving me my after nap hug
Practicing her letters
And travelling through the alphabet
Attaching something African to each letter
L is lion
N is N’kosi sikeleli
Which he sings the rest of the evening
Starting with the trip to feed the neighbor’s dog
Through leftovers
And right into sissy’s gymnastics
And a trip to the playground
She is annoyed
Now that he is into the song
She is over it
He isn’t over choosing books
Eating shark crackers
Or drinking something out of a cup without a top
So I make a lot of trips up and down the Spanish Steps
Before I can give hugs and kisses
Exchange I love yous
I love you daddy
Practically hear her fall asleep as I close the door
And listen to him end his day the way he began it
Bargaining with the turtle
With most of the day complete
I grade papers
Paint the bathroom
Talk with my wife on the phone
From Iowa
Write this poem
And look forward to doing it all again
Soon

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Coping With Kindergarten

Creative writing
Zoloft
Psychiatrists
Psychologists
Exercise
Gardening
Tobacco
Alcohol
Heroin
Video games
Calls home to mommy
Hugs from your daughter
Who is about three weeks away from kindergarten
I suppose they are all options
When facing life altering change
Like your first born’s first day of kindergarten
For now I’m good with hugs and poetry
But I’m not ruling anything out just yet

Monday, August 08, 2011

two and a half and summer

Mittens
Winter coat
Scarf
Boots
Ninety degrees
Plus
A smile
Who other than a two and a half year old
Could bring all that together
Actually insist on bringing it all together
And
Albeit with a red face and a lot of sweat
Actually make it work

Sunday, August 07, 2011

I wish I was a lilly

The heat of the sun
And a week's vacation
Have conspired to annihilate the lilies
Limiting them to resurrection
As their only hope of
Following winter
With spring

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Intelligent design

A birthmark
Or two or three
A cut above his eye
A cut above his other eye
One bruise on her leg
Or two
Or thirty seven
Hundred
Whining
Screaming
Fighting
Constantly
And now she’s afraid of
Death and
New people
And suddenly I feel
Just as I felt tonight
In the backyard
Surrounded by
Plants in various states of distress
And weeds
And not as much grass as there should be
Except
I can’t tear everything up and start again
Go inside
Or move away
Maybe
I’ll finally have to develop an eye for
Beauty marks
Patina and
Intelligent design

Friday, August 05, 2011

You're My Daddy

She doesn’t say I love you as much anymore
What she says
In a slightly too childish
Sing-songy voice
Usually while hugging me
Is
“You’re my daddy”
“You’re my only daddy”
Sometimes she looks me right in the eyes when she says it
Tonight she said it right before I sang the good night song to her
And she wanted me to cuddle with her as I sang
No
It’s true
She doesn’t say I love you as much anymore
But for now
That’s OK with me

Thursday, August 04, 2011

old recipes and new kitchens

Great Grandma’s molasses cookies
Aunt Ange’s ravioli
The tune casserole recipe from
The Strasburg Heritage Cook Book
You want to have them and
Why shouldn’t you
What a legacy
What a great alternative to Swanson’s and McDonalds
The recipe is always so simple
The memory so wonderful and clean
And our existence so dirty and jumbled
There never seem to be more than a few ingredients
Usually stuff like butter and sugar and flour and tuna
No tofu in there
No pine nuts or organic brown sugar
Or free range chickens fed on multigrain toast
Simple
Canned mushrooms
Shortening
Lipton Onion Soup mix
But will you eat it
Every day
What if
Mrs. C. Robert Long (Jean)
Takes her Macaroni and Tuna Bake recipe
And hounds you with it
Insists that you eat it for every meal
Forces your kids to eat it
And berates them when they don’t
Tuna bake for breakfast
Tuna bake for lunch
Tuna bake for dinner
Tuna bake for dessert
And your late night snack
That you shouldn’t be taking anyway
Please
Thank you
You’re welcome
A hug and/or a kiss
It seems simple
Just make them say it
If they don’t
All you need is persistence
And a lot of guilt
And you will have
Civility
Tranquility
A lack of ripples on the surface
And if you don’t
She’ll do it for you
What can you do
What can you do with Mrs. C. Robert Long (Jean)
You could tell her that
She never ate tuna bake for every meal
That she had other things going in her kitchen
In her home
In her home
Or maybe you just take a bite
And say thank you
And keep it to yourself
That you didn't really eat it every day
And that when you did
You used fresh mushrooms
Whole wheat bread crumbs
And provolone
Rather than American cheese

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

summer's preludes

A woman’s arm
Sticking out of a car window
Elbow, hand, and fingers fully visible
It’s as much summer
As the outstretched arm of a teenager
Zits barely visible through the glare and pictures of a thousand and one frozen treats
Holding out a waffle cone filled with blue moon or rocky Road
Or the unopened flower of a lily
Any lily
Asiatic
Trumpet
American
Best appreciated
Completely unadorned
No cigarettes
No Faces
No futures
Just skin
Sheet metal
And wind

Pulling It All Together

Rugged cliffs
Sand
Grass
Rocks
Metal and plastic pipes

Blue sky
A smattering of fluffy white clouds
Sand
Sprinkled with
Rocks
Beach chairs
Beach umbrellas
Beach people

Water
Connecting the two
Blending into the sky in the distance
Crashing onto the sand in front of us
Stretched and thinned out by the tide
But still crashing
Still powerful
Pushing around the sand and rocks
Collapsing the cliffs
Exposing evidence of houses long gone
Pulling all of us
And our equipment
Onto the beach
Away from our homes
Pets
Jobs
Routines
Our lives

Lighthouse
Barely visible behind the cliff
Intruding into the sky
Still
From where it was moved
To keep it safe from the water
At least temporarily

Temporarily
There to be pulled together
With
Cliffs
And sky
And you

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

I am the shadow

Sleeping Beauty
Cinderella
Ariel
It’s always about the princess
It’s her shoes we can imagine slipping on
Her bed we awake from
Her ocean we walk out of
It’s the butterflies in her belly that we feel in our own
Regardless of who we are
Man, woman, or child
The prince is a shadow on a sunny day
Present
But hardly the point
Except of course to the prince
He’s there too
He’s scared too
It’s not easy to face a fire breathing dragon
Fight your way through a forest of thorns
Or confront a wicked witch
He’s lonely too
We’re not talking about Arabian Nights after all
He’s not after his fourth princess
If he doesn’t get the princess
He’s still at home with mom and dad
Ultimately
He’s at the mercy of someone else too
He doesn’t know that she’ll wake up
Or choose to give up a watery kingdom for him
Or whether happily ever after really is
I’m not sure I want to slip on his
Huntsman’s knee boots
But I’m not sure I have a choice
I danced with my daughter
While she was wearing a borrowed princess pajama dress
And I heard it
When she turned to her friend
And said
“I got the prince”
I know his pain
I know his joy
And I’ll be the shadow

Staying on the horizon

If it was with us on the beach
It would be the beach
But it's on the edge of the horizon
So far out it's not
Possible to tell which way it's headed
Without more patience than I possess
It's certainly not possible to give advice on
Barnacle removal or
Mess hall protocol
Because it's not on the beach
It's not the beach
It's not my whole life
I can even make it disappear with just my thumb
Unfortunately all grandparents aren't content with the thumb maneuver and
Although we aren't on their beach
There is no place to anchor that is out of sight or
Out of reach

Monday, August 01, 2011

Talk to her

Talk to her
Tell stories
Jokes
Make her laugh
Fill the air space
Keep her entertained
But if you want to keep her
Happy
Or interested
Or around
You may have to take a chance
Risk it all
And
Ask a question
And maybe even wait for the answer
Or
Just be quiet

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Remembering the Beach

Right now
Sand is
Everywhere
On the beach
Between my toes
On my bluefish fillet
It will be like that all week
And then
Gradually
It won't
The car will be vacuumed
Eventually
The clothes will all get washed
And the pails
And shovels
And Dora the Explorer sand molds
Will be stowed in the garage
Until next time
And unless and until next time
It will be hard to even remember what it was like
When sand was everywhere

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Writing Poetry

Seven minutes to midnight and
Everyone is asleep
Except me and the cat
In less than seven
Make that six minutes
That too had better change
But right now
All is quiet
No one is running outside by themselves
No one is screaming out a request
For a glass of milk or help with putting on high heels and a stethoscope
No one is running around naked chasing the cat
No one is doing anything
Except me and the cat
The time for being poetic is over and
For a few more minutes
The time for writing poetry is passing through

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Clarence Nightingale

Today
As we got ready to read stories
Before nap
My son stepped on my foot
While wearing a tiara
A Cinderella dress
A stethoscope
And plastic high heels
I screamed
He wasn’t too worried
I suppose he thought he could fix it

Monday, July 18, 2011

Nature or Nurture

A seventeen year old
In Port St. Lucie
Florida
Bludgeoned his parents to death
And then threw a party
So
Either don’t worry about when to start giving time outs
And how to discipline your five year old for smart ass remarks
Or worry a whole hell of a lot
Your choice

An Open Book

My daughter couldn’t get to sleep last night
She was worried about death
She’s five
She’s been reading since she was four
No one discovered I could read
Until midway through kindergarten
When I learned that reading
Might get you attention and rewards
I don’t remember lying awake at night
Picturing a never ending blackness and
What it might feel like to disappear into it
Until I was in at least third grade
But I never got candy or
A Tonka Truck for doing it or
Talking about it and
I’m not half her mother
The woman who insists on asking for help in any store
If you can’t find what you’re looking for within the first ten seconds you’re there
And who actually talks to people
When she doesn’t have to
And tells them things about herself
I just hope
For my daughter’s sake
That she finds a few people
Willing to read that kind of open book

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Calling Mom

Hope lives
In every phone message
Left by a parent
To their parent and
Fear is the other side of hope
And the companion of creation
And ownership
And love
For every one of us transient occupants of the planet called earth
Who don’t come out of an egg
Do suckle at the breast and
Have a phone that works

one small step for man

I write poetry because
It is the closest I will ever come to walking on the moon
First
I suppose it is possible
That no one will ever make peanut chicken
The same exact way I made it last week
And maybe my choice to plant yet another Asiatic lilly
In front of the daisies and
Alongside the ever encroaching lilies of the valley
Is unique
But I know that I am the only one who has ever written these words before
I made it here first
And you can’t say that about very much

Friday, July 15, 2011

In and Out

In went the tofu
Out came the grease from the pan onto my ankle
Out came my daughter
Out came a plastic bag
Out came the stool
Out came some ice
Out came some words
“Here dada”
In went the broccoli and red pepper

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My inner child

Tonight I practiced my tennis serve
In the front yard
It’s been at least a decade since I’ve practiced it
In the sort of environment that is meant for tennis
And at least a year since I’ve even hit the ball off the garage door
But now I’ve given up on the garage door
It was open
The cars were parked in the driveway
And you can’t really practice your serve
In a short little hill of a driveway
So I returned to my roots and
I banged the ball across the front lawn a few times
I was on my hands and knees under the neighbor’s car once or twice and
Hit at least two family members but
I had more fun than I would have on a tennis court
Almost as much fun as I used to have hitting the ball inside my parent’s house
Either up the stairs or
Off the inside of the front door
Earlier in the day I played with matchbox cars
In the past few weeks I have pretended I was walking through the Serengeti in search of an oasis
Killed time on a plane bound for South Africa
Drove a range rover through the Kalahari Desert and
Led an expedition along the Great Wall of China
I even watched the performance of God Bless Africa at the Graceland Concert
Multiple times
For the first time in twenty years
Don’t get me wrong
I see the joy in making sure everyone eats fruit and
Urinates before we leave the house but
I also see the necessity of
Practicing my serve in the front yard

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Parent in Summer

Heartburn and Sunburn
Are old age, the elements, and sautéed chicken breast conspiring against me

Sitting, standing, laying down, or wrestling
Is a list of alternating realities rather than alternate possibilities

Pain of parenthood
Is something else you feel in your skin and in your heart
Regardless of what you do to avoid it

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Present for the Moment

I am the only one talking
She leans against me as I read the story
Her head nestled up against my shoulder
Sliding into the contours of my arm
As if that was where it was meant to be
He provides balance from the my left
A little hand resting on my thigh
More heavily than would seem possible
But not so heavy that it is uncomfortable
Not yet
Because in this moment
Nothing is uncomfortable
They are as rocks lying in a stream
Listening to the water rush over them and
I am being held down
Water and rocks
And present

Monday, July 11, 2011

This week's fantasy

This week
I am teaching my children to sing the African national anthem
Fist clenched in the air
Defiantly
As if it had never been
Forcibly joined
With "Die Stem van Suid-Afrika"
As if apartheid had never ended
As if my children will ever know or care who Hugh Masekela is
As if singing in Xhosa, Zulu, or Sotho is a skill they will be able to use
This week
Or any week
Even so
As with every week
I allow my fantasy
To spill out into their reality

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The truth about dogs and my daughter


The truth
About dogs and
My daughter
Is …
That she acted as if she was afraid of
Every dog everywhere
Even the smallest
Most rat like of canines
She was wary
Guarded
And on edge
In the most loudest
And most flamboyant way possible
And now
She still is
Although this weekend she was wary and guarded
And Flamboyant
While she pet a dog
And fed a dog
And threw balls to a dog
And hugged a dog
It’s the truth
That the dog was very friendly
That my daughter is five years old
That one of them is afraid of earthquakes
And some of the rides at Sesame Place
And Brussel Sprouts
And that as a baby
Was bitten by a dog
An event she doesn’t remember
It’s all part of the truth
About dogs and
My daughter
And as with all truth
That’s the problem

Of honesty and poetry

It’s most poetic to say
That we can only write
The page of our life that we are on
But your definition of writing would have to be pretty narrow
And your world would have to be filled with a lot of
Historians
And prognosticators
In addition to the writers
Who would be liars
Today
I’m feeling
More analytical
And more honest than usual
About myself and my world
So I’m prepared to admit
That I’m always
Writing and rewriting
And that every single page
Of every book I can get my hands on
Is fair game
Whether it’s poetic
Or not

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Zero to Two in Sixty Seconds Flat: Parenthood, Poetry, and First Two Years of Your Child's Life

I'm not writing a poem today, because today I officially self-published my first book of poetry ... poetry, with only one or two exceptions, that has never before appeared on this blog. That seems like enough for one day. This book of mine began it's life as a gift for my daughter on her second birthday; more than fifty poems recording her first two years as I experienced them. It was a very personal gift. I think that now, three years later, it is something more. It is still personal, but I think it captures a small piece of the experience of parenting when both parent and child are still pretty new, and maybe even something more universal than that. I think that what we have to say only resonates with others when we feel it deeply, when it is truly personal. I know that what I have written in this book of poetry is, with few exceptions, very personal and felt very deeply. I hope that means it will resonate with others ... maybe with you. I hope you take a look, and I hope you like what you see.

The book (Zero to Two in Sixty Seconds Flat: Parenthood, Poetry, and The First Two Years of Your Child's Life)can be purchased here.

It should also be available on amazon.com soon.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Dancing in my pants

I’m dancing in my pants
That’s what he told me when I asked him if he liked the music
I recognized it as what it was
A yes
An affirmative answer and
An affirmation
Of what he was doing
Pulling at the edge of his shorts
One hand on each leg
Moving to the beat
An affirmation
Of what I was doing
Drawing his attention away from the water
I had clumsily squirted on his shorts
In an attempt to hand him the water bottle
While driving
An affirmation of the importance of the moment
Of the importance of dancing
Whether in
Or out of
Your pants

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Threat of Flight

The sprinkler spins so fast
I keep waiting for it to take off
Through the branches of the Japanese maple and
Into the setting sun
Which may be why
Today
I’m not brave enough to stand over top of it
I’m not as brave as she is or
In the early evening of this
Tuesday
In July
I have less in common with the sprinkler

Monday, July 04, 2011

Fireworks

Loud sounds and bright lights
In the warmth and the darkness
In fairy jammies

Friday, July 01, 2011

Questions

What do you tell
The old crotchety guy
Who lives at the base of a volcano and
Refuses to leave his house
When the mountain begins to shake and
Smoke starts to slip out into the air
What do you say
To the person
Who tells you
Through their tears
That everything is OK
What can you do
When someone complains about a headache but
Won’t take anything
What can I do
When she rocks back and forth
Bends over
Bounces
Grabs her crotch
But says she doesn’t have to go to the bathroom

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Moment

How many words does it take to capture a moment
I suppose it depend on the moment and
Who is capturing it

Forest

I’ve never been economical with my words but
I’m always pushing on to the next thing

Boardwalk trail

I suppose I know that when push comes to shove
I’m average

Two kids
Five and
Two


As unable to truly focus on the moment or
Describe it accurately and
Economically
As the next guy or gal

Late morning

Being a parent doesn’t make it easier
To slow down and
Appreciate what you have

Deer eating leaves

Sometimes
However
Everyone
Get’s lucky

Smiles and
Silence

Magic

It exists
It has to
There is no other way to explain
My days and
My nights
If a miniature human being was to
Appear in your midst and
Look to you
Challenge you
Question you
Learn from you
Yell at you
Wake you up
Put you to sleep and
Grow in front of you
Every day
What would you call it

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

laughing at the gas face

I laughed
I probably shouldn’t of
But I laughed
He was chasing his sister
Walking backwards
With a smile on his face and
Mischief clearly in his mind
That would have been enough to make me at least chuckle
Throw in the fact that he was passing gas
In an attempt to give her a
“Gas face”
And what choice did I have
I know laughter encourages
But so what if he tries to fart in her face again
What if he tries to make her smile again
It worked this time
What if he is encouraged not to take himself too seriously
What if he is encouraged to be comfortable with his body
And his bodily functions
What if he is encouraged to enjoy life
I suppose I shouldn’t have laughed
But what if I hadn’t

Monday, June 27, 2011

Asteroids, Ice Cream, and Nate Dogg

I feel defeated
Whenever my wife or
My in-laws
Report a new word
Talent
Or experience
And it’s new to me
Because
Nate Dogg died in March
And I only found out about it yesterday
Glen Rice is a womanizer
Who hid out from police in a closet and
I only found out
Years after the fact
Because I wrote a poem with his name in it
I almost bought a Nate Dogg album once
Which is more than can Or should
Be said about most people and
Glen Rice is from Flint
And went to the University of Michigan
And helped win a National Championship
Which could also be said about me
Except maybe for the Championship thing
I even let an asteroid slip by the earth
Closer than some satellites
Without knowing about it until ten minutes ago
And after the fact
So it should be no wonder
That I want to know about it
And be there
When he says love
Or thank you
Or eventually
Or she reads
Or makes friends
Or when he has his first ice cream
Or that I never liked it that kryptonite
Made superman vulnerable
That I’ll stay up until midnight perfecting a poem
And that I missed out on her first ice cream

Saturday, June 25, 2011

In my own hands

I hold the proof to my first book of poetry
In my own hands
I have never had much use for strollers
I held my daughter
And now I hold my son
In my own hands
I don’t carry my daughter as much anymore
She’s over forty pounds now
But when we cross the street or
A parking lot
Enter into a new place or
Whenever I can find an excuse
I hold her hand
In my own hand
When I garden and
When I wash dishes
I don’t wear gloves
Because I want to feel the dirt
Or its absence
In my own hands
Even in the coldest of weather
I don’t care for gloves
I want to feel the snow
When I make a snowball or
A snowman
I want to feel my wife’s hand
In mine
Even if it is cold outside
So
It is little wonder
That I’m not interested
In laying the proof down on a table or bookshelf
Not yet anyway
Right now
I just feel better
To have it here in my hands

Building the Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China was
At the same time
A boundary and
A destination
It was both
It was both because of
Where it was and because
For about two thousand years
What it was
Didn’t stop changing
There is no brick and mortar wall between us but
There is a project there
A continuing project
Every hug
Every scowl
Every scream
Every time he cocks his head
Curls his lips into a forced scowl
Smiles in those blue eyes and
Then breaks into an indescribable giggle
Every minute I delay coming to his side
When he calls my name
They are all places we go together
They are destinations and
They are barriers
Sometimes we can walk easily from one to the other
Sometimes the distances covered seem too great
Never do we consider whether they can be seen from space
We haven’t gotten there yet
We’re still imagining
Fighting
Hugging
Kissing
Laughing
Running
Tickling
Walking
Talking
Changing diapers
Reading board books
Building with legos
Building with alphabet blocks
Building train set ups
I just bought him Lincoln Logs
We are still building

Friday, June 24, 2011

In Search of Clarity

For me
Life as a parent
Is like trying to get a clear signal on a television using rabbit ears
Day after day after day
With barely a bathroom break
In between cat naps on a mattress laid out in front of the television
In a house that is in the middle of a war zone
Knowing that you are there to fulfill an important mission
Knowing that on that television is
The best
Most wonderful
Completely fulfilling and
Enriching experience
You could ever have
Along with the secret to ending the war being waged around you and
The only map for finding eternal happiness
You can hear voices and
Through the fog and fuzz
You can see
The outlines of people
Occasionally
You can see even more and
For a moment or two
Once in a great while
Usually during a commercial
Everything is as clear as day
Providing the reference points
The bread crumbs
The tease
Which
As a good and dependable parent
You eagerly collect and
Follow
Into
The static and
Confusion

Thursday, June 23, 2011

There's his dad

It would be nice to be the parent in the audience
The one that the camera slowly pans to
At the big game
Wearing the paraphernalia and
Biting their nails or
Fingering their rosary beads or
Rubbing their hands or
Doing whatever they do to show their interest and
To will their son or daughter to victory
Being at the draft
When they call your child’s name and
Hand them a cap
On their way to millions
Would be quite nice too
Except for having to wear a suit but
I have to think that all of it is only nice
If you had the chance to develop your nail biting
At the middle school basketball game
Where the score barely threatened double digits
If you grimaced and sighed in the driveway with the three foot plastic hoop
Watching balls and frisbees and whatever else
Soar into trees and
Neighbor’s yards
If you prayed the rosary every time your child
Threw themselves at a wall or
Got knocked completely off of their feet
When you were the one that had to find the band aids and
Buy the crutches and
If you enjoyed most of it
And not just retrospectively
You can only come by a good ritual naturally and
With a lot of work and
A lot of disappointment and satisfaction
It’s ok though
Because most of the time the camera’s not on you
So you can relax occasionally and
Always wear comfortable clothes

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Ignorance of Bliss

He cries
Because he can’t have
Something that he clearly can’t have
At least according to our rules
Rules he doesn’t understand
But which still impede on his reality
Because we think we understand them
And we follow them
Even though they make us cry too
So much
For the power of knowledge
And the ignorance of bliss

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Rainy Summer Day

Rain is in the forecast
Almost always
Somewhere
And here
If your perspective is long-term enough
Rain is always somewhere on the horizon
Threatening to drive us inside
Off of the playground
Out of the backyard
Out of the amusement park
And into the house
It seems to be a fate to be avoided
Being stuck inside with two children
Who are forced to spend time with you and
Actually want to
It seems a fate as inevitable
And perpetual
As the rain itself
It truly seems that way
Now

Monday, June 20, 2011

Connections

Eye to eye
Smile to smile
That’s where it’s at
That’s where you want to be
When you’re dragging her to time out or
Listening to her scream as loud as she possibly can
As loud as the scream you told her to reserve for a lion attack
So loud that the neighbors must think she is being attacked by lions
All because she didn’t get the same number of
Watering can fill ups as her brother
But even
And especially
When you come into
Her room in the morning and
She greets you by rolling under her covers and
Grunting
Whining and
Asking for mommy
All the while clutching
The book she’s been reading and
Wants to keep reading
Eventually
If you’re not to driven to get her dressed and
Focused on a mutually beneficial exchange
That will achieve that result
She’ll give you a hug and
A sly smile but
Her mind
Her focus
Will still be elsewhere and
Elsewhere is an illness
A nothingness
That seems to be growing
So
When you can get her eye to eye
Smile to smile
Mind to mind
Do it

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sleepover at Grammy's house

Moving about in a house without children
For a parent
Is like being in the department store after
Or before
Hours
For everyone else
Not the mall
It’s filled with too many choices
Too many opportunities
Not the grocery store
It’s too limited
And has too many climate zones
Not the museum
Any museum
That’s too exotic
Too intellectual
And there’s not enough plastic
Not the book store
The analogy itself is
Cruel and unusual punishment
As I think I have lost the skill to read anything
That doesn’t rhyme and
Have illustrations
Lots of them
And the thought of giving all those opportunities
To someone who would remember what to do with them
Is just too much
No the department store is the right place
Outside of our normal experience with it
It’s intriguing
But still familiar
Still limited
And it’s generally just one temperature
So moving about
Unconsciously searching for
A customer service representative
Or an open
And short
Line at the cash register
I don’t have to bemoan the fact I haven’t dressed in layers
And I can focus more clearly
On what isn’t there
And how I feel about it

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The importance of living through it

As I pulled out onto highway 413 this morning
My rearview mirror was immediately filled with
Eighteen wheels of blue with yellow accents
It wasn’t until I accelerated around the next corner
That I realized how close I came
From being ushered out of this world
In a pile of kidney beans, coconut milk, and adobo
Which goes to show
If you want to know you were almost run over by a Goya truck
The almost part is important
But survival is paramount

Friday, June 17, 2011

Of Cronkite, Nureyev, Plato, and Parental Expectations

I wonder if Plato licked his toes
He probably wore sandals
Even as a kid
So they were there to be licked
Like handrails on escalators and train seats
Though he would have had to settle for
Chariot wheels and seats
Did Nureyev ever settle inelegantly on a sofa
Or trip over a hose or
The sidewalk or
His own feet
Did Carl Lewis
Run into walls
Did Hillary climb the couch
Did Einstein figure out how the toilet works and
Insist on flushing it for everyone
Did Cronkite or Murrow or Jennings
Start off with a flurry of whys
I wonder if their parents had good answers

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Domesticated Me

Scientists now think that the domestication of animals
Is a process that occurs at the genetic level and
That even we have been domesticated
Rendered more docile and cooperative
At a molecular level
Now I am sure this process occurs over generations and
Not years
But I can’t help but think that the
Radish green pesto I made this week
Is a sign of fundamental changes deep within me and
I wore an apron twice last week and
I continue to change diapers and
Do laundry and
Shop for groceries and
Care whether my daughter’s purple shoes look good with her pink scooter and
Provide encouragement to my spouse
When things are tough at work
Maybe even bake something special
Which I bring out to her
Wearing floral oven mitts and
A silly smile on my face
Somewhere in Siberia they have bred Foxes to act like dogs
To whine and wag their tails and
Sport piebald coats
Here in Levittown
I can’t help thinking that
At the building block level
If it looks like a dog and
Acts like a dog
It’s probably a dog
Woof woof

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

That's why I have two arms

He’s heavy now
Getting heavier all the time
But I’ll keep carrying him
Until my arms fall off
Or he asks me to stop
Because eventually he will

Tasting the Magic - Explained

Daddy
I want to taste the magic
That’s where the poetry is
It’s not in knowing that
My daughter said this to me a few days ago
After asking me if I could pull potato chips from under the dining room table
It’s certainly not in the details
That during a lunch
Almost a year ago now
I was trying to surreptitiously snack on potato chips
When I was caught
She didn’t see the bag
However
So I told her that I had conjured them using the magic
That all dads possess
I only used that magic again once and
Although she never forget
She only mentioned it periodically
Until this week
When I responded to being locked out of my son’s room
With daddy magic
This bit of door sorcery conjured up an open door
Some powerful memories and
A bit of poetry
Which I
Being unable to suppress a father’s innate mundanity
Have explained herein

Monday, June 13, 2011

Kindergarten

I always wondered
What grew in a kindergarten
Not vegetables
Not flowers
Kinders I suppose
Do Kinders grow flowers or
Fruit or
Just up and
Wild and
Away
I’ve always wondered and
Now I’m about to find out

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Child's Place

Shapes shift
As darkness fades into black
And I see her
As clear as day
A marching band duels with a garbage truck
As I stand in between
Surrounded by Ghanaian drummers
And I hear her voice
As clear as a bell
The rain comes down on me
Lying on the ground
On a nature trail
In the mud and leaves
And I feel her hair in my hands
Clearly
Cleanly
As if
She is all there is

Thursday, June 09, 2011

My Wife Poem: Nearing Nine

I’m sorry
But my love for you is more like a Brussel Sprout
Then a blueberry
It is a complex taste
A total experience
And it tastes better
When you throw all the good stuff in
Garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh grated parmesean cheese
Sautéed to the edge of burnt
Nothing left out
Not even the harsh layered taste of the brussel sprouts
Especially not that
It’s a complete taste experience
Layered
Full
Inclusive
Touching every corner of the palatte
I’m sorry
But it’s the way it is
The only way I want it to be

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Writing a Poem

Writing a poem
Talking on the phone with my mother
Listening to an almost sleeping child
Nothing gets done particularly well
But it all has to get done
At once
Or not at all
So here I sit
Talking
And writing about
The kids
Benign moles
Possible house offers
And upcoming trips to New Mexico
All the while trying to hold the phone far enough from my face
So as not to be too much at risk of brain cancer
And holding my breath every time I hear
The yells of our neighbor
Coming through the monitor
Unsure of how long his has been the only voice
Coming through the monitor
And almost curious about what the screaming means for the Phillies
In their game with the Dodgers
And
Ultimately
Waiting for the moment
When I have said goodbye and
Hopefully I love you
To my mother
My son is quiet and
We are in between exciting moments in the baseball game
So that I can
For a moment
Just be
Writing a poem

My Daughter Poem at Five

Curls
Blue eyes
Becoming green
A murmur in the morning
Escaping from the monitor
Forming into words and
Then into a book
As I wake up
I recognize it
Long limbs
Covered in birthmarks and
Bruises
And
The stories
Explanations
Monologues
Delivered
Stage left
Stage right
Center stage
Off stage
The smiles
Mocking
Caring
Needy
And
In those eyes
Sparkling
Green
With a lingering hint of blue

Monday, June 06, 2011

Clarity

Tornados hit first and
Then the looters
Stealing possibilities
A black man is elected president and
Then the birthers hit
Stealing optimism
You share something real with her on the first date and
Then the kids hit
Stealing everything and anything
Then the night comes and
I want to steal through it but
I stay inside
Only looking at the stars
Hazy in the glare of the street lights and
The neighbor’s landscape path lights
When I take out the garbage or
Retrieve something from the car that I have forgotten and
Then
For a moment I remember
That then has two sides and
We all live in both

Friday, June 03, 2011

Life on the Beach

We are building sand castles
The only real question is
How surprised will you be when the wave comes

Thursday, June 02, 2011

A Vision of Beauty

I reach the top of the steps and
Catch a glimpse of
Orange pajamas
Lightning McQueen all over them
Hugging spindly arms and legs and
A Bulging nighttime diaper
It’s a fleeting vision of
Pure beauty

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

He Screams

He screams
When I get up to his bedroom I ask him why
He says he doesn’t know and
Talks about a strange sound
Then asks for a stuffed animal
It’s pretty much the same conversation each time
By the time we give up on nap
He has a full crib
I know that he heard something and
Is scared and
He knows I am taking his fear seriously or
At least I hope so
It’s hard though
I want to him to know that I’ll believe him
If he says the piggy bank came alive and tried to eat him
Without making him afraid of piggy banks
I want him to know I won’t be one of those fathers
From the horror movies who
Smiles and nods their head
When told of danger and
Then leaves their children to fend for themselves
Without having to show him a horror movie
I want to be there every time he screams
So I am

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

tea, toast, and typing

Tea and toast at 10:47
Tea and toast and typing
The toast is first to go
The tea is next
The timeline for typing
Well that depends on what else I let into my evening
CNN
Realtor.com
The weather
Tomorrow it will be 91 degrees with
A 60 percent chance of rain
In the afternoon
In the form of thunderstorms
The NBA championships are on tonight too
The television is sleeping with my wife but
I have a history of late night trysts with online radio and
Trysts of every and any kind with
ESPN.com
Trysts and toast would make for an entirely different kind of evening
I wonder if the toast would still go first and
Would there be tea and
Would I be done with everything by 10:57
Tea, toasts, trysts and
Typing
Probably not
It is past toast
Tea and
10:59 right now