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


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

As unable to truly focus on the moment or
Describe it accurately and
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

Get’s lucky

Smiles and


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
Or experience
And it’s new to me
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
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
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
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
As a good and dependable parent
You eagerly collect and
The static and

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
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

Monday, June 20, 2011


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
Whining and
Asking for mommy
All the while clutching
The book she’s been reading and
Wants to keep reading
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
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
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

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
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


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
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
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
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
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
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
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

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
The stories
Stage left
Stage right
Center stage
Off stage
The smiles
In those eyes
With a lingering hint of blue

Monday, June 06, 2011


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
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