Monday, January 31, 2011

A poem a day

A poem a day keeps the doctor away
Unless you have to stay up to midnight writing one
Or two
Or three
Because you stubbornly want to write one for every day in the month
This month
This month that is almost over
In which case
You should stick with an apple

Imaginary Snow Days

Elephants and Monsters
Snoozy, Strawberry, and Sweetie;
Snowed out of School too

Her love is better than chocolate, but what about rhubarb pie?

In her song Ice Cream
Sarah McLachlan asserted that
Love could be better than ice cream or
Despite the fact that this was the song
To which I danced my first dance with my wife
As my wife
I never really gave much thought to the statement
I don’t really like chocolate and
‘Better than ice cream’
Is just too vague for me
What kind of ice cream?
What is on the ice cream?
What time of year is it?
Besides, I wanted to dance to Van Morrison’s Crazy Love
So I have never taken Sarah’s claim very seriously
Until recently
Until my daughter started saying
I love you
At night
It used to be that she said I love you
After I said I love you
After she blew me a kiss and
After I blew her seven kisses
But with the new year
She began to add something new in
Before she says
‘Good night sleep tight good night’
She added another ‘I love you’
An unprompted ‘I love you’
An unprompted ‘I love you’ followed by a ‘daddy’
That is better than Chocolate
That is better than ice cream
In most every scenario I can come up with
That may even be better than Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
Or my homemade Molasses cookies
That is a crazy love
And it is better than anything else I have tried
Or at least
It has the potential
To be
Every bit as good

Friday, January 28, 2011

Snow Storm

Garbage can balanced
Four feet above the driveway;
Snow is still falling

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Blizzards and Saddam: Passing fancies

This morning
With the power out
And the world covered in a foot
Or more
Of heavy wet snow
I couldn’t get Saddam’s blood Quran out of my head
A Quran
Written entirely in human blood
It must be beautiful
It would almost have to be
Especially since it is simultaneously
Forbidden to be in existence and
Forbidden to be destroyed
Very real
Very able to be preserved for quite some time
And yet
In a very real way
As ephemeral as the beauty of the first moments of
Morning after a large snowfall
Before shovels
Snow blowers
Plows or
Before it matters that there is no power
And the temperature continues to drop inside the house
Before anything other than snow matters at all

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rapid Development: My Daughter as Korea

I tried to make a joke
One I really only wanted my wife to hear
So I spelled it out
Being a parent
Is like being The United States
If the United States lived in a house with Korea and
Singapore or
Maybe even India
My daughter understood what I’d said
And her mother said “huh?”
And now I am still awake
Wondering whether we are in the 1970’s or the 1980s
Thinking about what I have to look forward to next

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pretending to Sleep

I’m pretending to be asleep
We just made dinner for the babies
I made an omelet for Mitchell
It had beans
Mushroom soup
Banana baby food
Baking powder and
An organic sugar substitute
Mixed in
But no eggs
Mitchell was cool with it, though
He left the cabbage patch a long time ago
Back when his current mother’s mother was still a wee lass
So he ate up without complaining
And even used a fork
When the others were practically diving into the serving pans
It tired him out too, though
So we had to take a nap
Or at least pretend to take a nap
I was kind of hoping I would be allowed to
Pretend I was pretending but
Within thirty seconds
Little brother was poking around
Concerned that I shouldn’t be pretending to sleep
First came the “ups” and
Egged on by a rooster impression from the baby area
Came the little hands
Wedged under my extremities
In an attempt to force me up
Now he has placed his hands on either side of my head
Who knows what is next but
For now
Mitchell and I are still
Pretending to sleep


Hat and hood on head
Mittens hanging from his sleeves:
He says only “cold”

Sunday, January 23, 2011


My life
Rests on an “if”
As if
On the edge of precipice
Even though
I’ve long since
Known whether I’ve fallen
Or not

&%@$ is funny

A two year old saying “fuck” is kind of funny
In the kitchen
As you are trying to herd everyone to the dinner table
But if
Or when
It gets legs and
Appears outside the house …
It’ll still be funny
But funny
When the grandparents hear it
Truly funny
If he’s still yelling it
Over and over again
In public
When he’s fifteen
It won’t be too funny
But the diaper
And the finger sucking
And the food throwing
And the plaintiff call of “poop”
Wouldn’t be funny
Or cute
So I’m choosing to laugh now
While it’s all still

Friday, January 21, 2011

Balance -or- prolonged and unsatisfied sexual excitement

For every time he scatters macaroni
Across the front of his shirt
In his hair
In his mother’s hair
On the floor
And on the cat
There is a day full of him
Asking for his blue sippy cup full of milk
His favorite color
And the only color he can consistently say
And milk
Which the two year old
Who can’t say “I want“
Or “cup”
Calls “nut”

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Three or four kernels of canned corn
A nibble of tofu waffle
No olives
But I’m willing to pretend he ate one
A few good swigs of “nut”
Known to the rest of us as milk
If he’s lucky and
Loud enough
There will be a cracker later
After Pajamas
Before stories
I wonder if we can shift one of the four or five bowls of cereal
From tomorrows breakfast over
To tonight
To make it seem
More like he ate

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Yes and No

I always say yes
He always says no
I don’t know why but
It is something reliable
If the game is on
I can say yes or
Maybe or
Possibly or
Sometimes or
Pizza and
He says no
Except for today
At lunch
For the first time
He said yes and
I said no

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Where is the one we gave him
That’s hers
You wanted to play with his at our house
He can’t play with that
It’s mine
That’s hers
I know it’s yours but he has it now
He won’t play with it long
Well it was really mine when I was a kid …
But …
I’m sharing it now

Monday, January 17, 2011


I’m working
She comes in for the after nap hug and
Leaves me
I’m still working
She brings in two crackers
Each lying under a slice of cheese and
Asks me if I want them
I say yes thank you
She says your welcome and
Smiles and
I’m still working
She shouts in
Asks me if I want hot chocolate
I say yes and
Get a taste of hers
Another exchange of politeness
Another big smile and
Again she leaves
I continue working
Then I hear a little back and forth about
Something being hot and
About using two hands and
Then she appears in the doorway
Moving slowly
A mug of hot chocolate in between her hands
The biggest smile yet
Just waiting to come out
Waiting for me to take the mug and
Look in its direction
I do my part and
Am rewarded
Although she leaves again and
Again I am working and
Counting the minutes until
She returns


I’m working on the computer
Grading papers
Kids upstairs
Wife upstairs
Both monitors are on
So no matter what room they are in
I can hear them
If they laugh
I can smile
If they scream at one another
I can cringe
If my daughter tells her mother
That she is not ready to
Leave the beach and
Get out of her swimsuit
Until daddy sees it
I can save my grading spreadsheet and
Run upstairs to the beach
I suppose it’s a little like the executive
On vacation
Who can’t let go of his blackberry
Except I escape to the office
About twenty feet away and
The executive probably doesn’t
Love the boss
Or change his diaper or
Run upstairs for a chance to
Visit him on the beach

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Dog enters the room
She runs
She screams
She climbs on the couch
She hops up and down
She squeals
She screams
She recoils
Knees bent
Head down
Elbows up
I move quickly to comfort her
To protect her
To have her cling to me
Arms around my throat
Knees in my gut
My first thought
Is ...
For the poor dog

Friday, January 14, 2011

Martin Luther King Jr. and Preschool Teachers

My four year old asked me why Dr. Luther King
Wasn’t around anymore and
What it meant to be shot because
Her pre-school teacher said that he was shot
By people who didn’t agree with him
I responded by playing
The I have a Dream Speech for her
I don’t know what she thought about it
I couldn’t hear her or the speech
Over her two year old brother’s screams of
He was feeling it for sure
Huge smile on his face
Blue eyes gleaming
Rocking back and forth and
Side to side
He might have even raised his hands up to the sky and
Shouted amen
I’d have settled for “yes reverend” or
“Speak the truth brother.”
I settled for “yes” because
It seems to have saved me
From having to explain
That disagreement isn’t usually fatal
I’m glad Columbus Day is behind us
There isn’t a good speech I can play for that

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Poop and Pee

(yes, shit … embarrassing, but it could be worse)
Puke (or pook)
It’s all natural and
It’s all a part of
The vocabulary of a four year old and
The aspirations of a two year old and
The life of a tirty seven year old

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


We say lots of them
But only a few
Last longer than a minute or two and
Even fewer
Make it through a season and
We have no control over which ones last or
Where they stay
We don’t even have total control over which ones we use
Which ones we send out into the world
We just place them as carefully as we can or
Throw as many of them out there as we can
We listen to
What others have to say
To their words

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Fall Flashbacks

Snow falling outside
In my head too
In my head it is falling in Michigan
I can see it in the streetlight
The road beginning to look like a country lane
Vague outlines of trees and Golf Course in the background
Visions of the frozen and
Snow covered creek
Dancing in between
A train passing in the distance
Adding a mournful note
To a quiet and
The house is dark behind me
Just as it is here
It continues to snow
Just as it does now
Snow is really falling outside
Here and now
I just can’t see it

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fever plus Motrin

Fever plus Motrin
Is like a snow day in the world of the internet and
I-phones and
Other such nonsense
Fever plus Motrin
That she slowed down and
Was whiney and
Every six hours but in between
She was raring to go and
So was her brother
Often cross purposes yet
In the same direction
Fever plus motrin is no different from
Fever by itself
In one important respect or
Should I say
To one important group of people
Preschool administrators
Fever plus motrin
Gives me a headache

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Working Late

It’s almost midnight
Still too cold here for short sleeves;
Too late to be up

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Sick Day

Propped up in bed with
Crackers and flat ginger ale;
Outside it’s snowing

Deja Vu

I almost feel like I’m back in college
The house is often a mess and
Always loud
The daily schedule certainly isn’t 9 to 5 and
Frequently I can be caught
Engaged in activities
That are something
Less than
The microwave gets almost as much as the stove
There is a guy here
Who charges into walls
Chugs his drinks and
Communicates mainly with grunts and
Monosyllabic exclamations
Delivered in slurred speech and
Has been known to run around naked with an older woman
While it is true that the alchohol doesn’t exactly
Flow like water around here
I have been puking more often than
I thought adults were supposed to puke
If I opened a book with more than one hundred words or
Felt a sense of mystery that didn’t involve
Feeling someone’s forehead or
Smelling their rear
I would be having that dream
Where I am late for a final exam
That I haven’t studied for at all
In a class
That I have barely attended
Wearing my underwear and
Almost nothing else

Of Danger and Disease

You can lock your doors
Even the garage door
You can lock your windows
Even the two in the kitchen
That open over the counter and
Are just big enough for a four year old to crawl through
If you happen to lock the keys in the house
As long as your four year old is especially skinny and
Tall enough to get down to the floor safely
You could get an alarm system
Put bars on the windows and
Switch out your basement windows for glass blocks
It keeps the spiders out of your basement
Which is great if you have a basement
You could join the local neighborhood watch or
Form one if necessary
You could attend community meetings and
Do ride along with cops if
You bug them enough
You name the one thing that would make your house feel secure
Because I know you can
But hardship and expense aren’t always going to be good enough
Deep down inside
Every parent knows that

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Every Other Night

Every other night
I put her to bed
Every other night she says
Good night sleep tight good night
After I ask her how many kisses she wants me to blow and
She says seven
After I blow seven kisses and
Ask for one of my own
After she blows one kiss and
Maybe even two or three
After I tell he I love her and
She tells me the same thing
Every other night I put him to bed
He says bye and
Blows kisses and
Then says bye again
At least three or four times
Maybe with another kiss blown in between and
Once the door is closed
Sings for at least half an hour
Every night
I come downstairs slowly
My eyes take a while to adjust to the light
Which is fine
Why should I rush
To work
Why should I move on
Too quickly
Every night

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Huck Finn has a Tantrum

I wouldn’t take the tantrum out of childhood
The way they have taken the N-word out of Huck Finn
What is childhood without the tantrum?
I suppose it is like a journey through the South
On the Mississippi river
In the mid-nineteenth century
With an African American
Maybe it is NWA without bitch and fuck
Clockwork Orange without the ultraviolence
Heathcliffe and Catherine living happily ever after or
A flight to Australia without jet lag
Maybe it isn’t really childhood
If you don’t like tantrums
You shouldn’t have children

Monday, January 03, 2011

January 3, 2011

Starlings, Grackles, and Red Winged Blackbirds are falling from the sky
Drum fish are washing up on the banks of the Arkansas River
Pete Postlethwaite died
Of cancer
Anne Francis died
Of cancer
Macaulay Culkin and Mila Kunis have split up
Although it had nothing to do with cancer
She said "he's an amazing guy,
Who is probably the most brilliant person I've ever met"
Now her publicist says it’s definitely over
Although "The split was amicable, and
They remain close friends"

Sunday, January 02, 2011

The New Year

The new year beckons
Like a full moon hanging over a snow covered field
Calling to me
Asking me to leave
The comfort of last year
Where I still am lingering
Warm and content
More or less
Sitting in a Queen Anne wingback chair
In front of the fire
Nothing left to do
Nothing left to chance
Offering only the beauty and promise
Of an unspoiled expanse of snow and
Whatever treasures I can discover for myself
In its reflected glow

Saturday, January 01, 2011

First Day

First day
New year is
Already after and
Caught in the wake
That’s what it means to be
Caught in continuity or
That’s what it means to be lived through
To be just another day
Just another segue
From old into the
Next segue
This day
This year
Every day
Every year