Monday, September 30, 2013


one or two is all
floating in a still warm wind
now and always green

an okra blossom
in the warm afternoon sun
bracing for evening

planting the flowers
rows, clusters, zig zags, scattered
all at least half off

still t-shirts and shorts
but khaki and with collars
unseasonable change

Sunday, September 29, 2013

One Time Processes

The leaves are changing
Next year
They will change
Fall off
Come back
Change color
Fall off
Again and

You are changing
Again and
Never again

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Friday, September 27, 2013


Can you hear the rain fall through the air
Before it hits the ground
Can you see the light from the sun before
You feel it on your face
When you see her cry
Can you see past the tears
I’ll keep going out
Once in a while and
Just stand there in the rain and
Let it fall down on me
Face upturned
Eyes closed

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Grass Is Always Greener?

A reluctant glance through the straw revealed
Enough standing water
There was no need to see the seed flow away
The sprinkler was off now and
All that was left to do was hope for some sun
At five in the afternoon
On a cloudy day
At the end of September
Hope and
As you watch your daughter cry and
Complain of a stomach ache
On this
The fourth Thursday and
The third full week
Of second grade
At the new school
You placed her in
Be thankful that
Still stacked in the main hall at Lowes
Just before you get to the artificial Christmas trees

There are bags and bags of seed for sale

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Late Model White Nissan Murano

She drives a white Nissan Murano
I can never remember her name
So I know her by the car and
Her son’s name
Her son
Who was crying in her arms
As she knelt in the parking lot
Next to the White Nissan
While his little sister slept inside and
Somewhere in Philadelphia
His grandma was probably sleeping in her hospital bed
While being prepped for hospice
Something his mom found out about
When the phone rang
While she was making sandwiches
In preparation for the play date
The one at the playground
The one with us and
The people in the Blue Subaru Outback
The one her son greeted her at the door to the preschool classroom talking about
With a huge smile on his face
The one she was now explaining to her son
With tears in her eyes and
That he wouldn’t be going to

In the white Nissan Murano

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

There's a President in my Closet

Apparently, the President of the United States has been walking out of Wyeth’s closet.  I just found this out yesterday.  I am told that he comes out of the closet door, the one I painted with chalkboard paint … the black one.  The President only comes out when the stuffed turtle nightlight goes out.  He only stays until he hears my footsteps on the stairs. Once the turtle is again illuminating the ceiling with assorted constellations, he is nowhere to be found.  I suppose I should be worried that my son needs a night light to keep a black man out of his room.  But I’m not.  Parenting isn’t an exact science.  You can seldom predict the exact results of your efforts, efforts which are more trial and error than anything else.  If you get close, you call it a victory.  My son is thinking about race, so I think President Obama is really showing up in my son’s room to drop off my parenting award.

Our approach to teaching our children about race has been a sort of consciously assembled collage made from a mixed assortment of magazines that just happened to be lying about the house.  The biggest picture, the one in the middle kind of anchoring the whole enterprise, came from a story my wife heard on NPR.  The basic idea was that liberal whites who think their children will pick up their attitudes about race by osmosis are wrong.  That was all I needed to hear.  I was done with osmosis.  I slapped that sucker in the middle with a little too much paste and started building.  We’ve been to Africa.  I studied African history and politics, not to mention Islamic law, in graduate school.  So, we cut out pictures of the continent, kente cloth, Chinua Achebe, and a mosque in Zanzibar and threw them together in the top right corner.  I love jazz, blues, and hip hop … so Billie Holiday and Tupac, among others, got pasted in.  We were both moved by the history of the civil rights movement, so pictures of water hoses and lunch counters have been fitted in and under.   Our time in California brought more than just an appreciation of authentic Chinese food, so Ellis Island was joined by Angel Island.  You get the idea.  We’ve talked about skin color … and we’ve taught them the African National Anthem, led them in recitations of the I Have A Dream speech, taken them on imaginary African adventures, told them about slavery, talked about the destruction of the American Indians, etc. etc.  We have a lot of stuff stuck on our collage.

I suppose from a four year olds perspective, this collage we have going is pretty messy.  But messy is kind of a good thing with children, kind of a necessary thing.  So is a bit of confusion.  So is a little bit if scary.  If Pocahontas ends up with Lewis and Clark or even on a wagon train or at Ellis Island, I’m ok with that.  If the Indians were marching in Selma, I can deal with that.  If every Indian has to be dead and that fact loudly declared in the middle of a Native American Museum staffed by Native Americans who are very much alive, we can all get over it.  If water cannons and whippings invade our thoughts, well they happened and without them the accomplishments that came after don’t seem as important as they are.  If President Obama is hanging out in his closet, I’m just going to have to be OK with that.   

Obama might be in the closet, but its easier to let him out than to get him in.  While he is in there, my son is asking about his black and brown friends at school.  He tells me he is thankful for what Dr. King has done for his friend.  He asks about slavery, cholera, and fasting before Ramadan.  So, the collage we’ve got going might be messy, scary, a bit rumpled around the edges, and maybe every so often a bit full.  But, if Obama can fit in with the matchbox cars and kid camping equipment, we can figure it all out.    

Monday, September 23, 2013

Ready For Forty

Put an epee in my hand
Place me behind the wheel of a 1975 Lincoln Continental
Drop me into a kayak
Set me up on the starting line of a marathon
Teach me how to play Australian Rules Football
Give me some instruction in how to use that guitar that is sitting in my closet
But first
Let me get my compression stocking on
Take my acid reflux medicine
Ice my sore shoulder
Hip and
Take a hit or two off my inhaler
Do the stretches suggested by my physical therapist and

Have my wife check the calendar 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Be Careful What You Wish For

I asked her to eat one piece of puffer fish
And she did
Twenty minutes
More than twenty tears
Umpteen million gyrations
A few faux choking episodes and
One attempt to spread on an inch of butter later
So be careful what you wish for
When it involves puffer fish

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Leaves soon will fall down
Where grass will grow again, now
Straw on top of seed

Friday, September 20, 2013

Invisible Piercings

No visible body piercing are allowed
Other than pierced ears for girls
No Boys
Penises and extra holes in the ear just don’t mix
Mohawks aren’t allowed either
Hair styles must be modest and not cause a distraction
Who pierces their little boys ears and gives them mohawks anyway
Isn’t that what you were trying to get away from
Into a place where
Girls pierce their ears
Wear capris
Sit together at lunch and
Boys stick to
Invisible or

Like the men most of us have become 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

After School Pick Up

When I see her and
She sees me
She runs
At first dodging
Even waiting if need be and
Arms outstretched
Braids flying back
Straight back
In tandem
Huge toothy smile on her face
Eyes wide and almost dancing
My name on her lips
She runs
Charges really
Right at me and
She sees me and
I see her

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


I am
Under the full moon
The kids are asleep
My work done
The animals have been fed
I don’t do the night dishes
I’m not cleaning up the house tonight
When I come back inside
I’ll shower
Sit in front of a book for a few minutes
Go to sleep
I’m running
Fast as I can
Under the full moon
I am

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Morning Drop Off

I am pretty sure I can lift a car with one hand
Faced with
A barely three foot tall bundle of
Panic and

I walk away

Monday, September 16, 2013


The in between
Me and
At five minutes to three
When he first awakens
Is awakened
Smile on his face
Like the moon in the mid-morning sky
Waiting to be picked up
So he can lie down
Head almost melting into my shoulder as
The moon almost melts into the perfect blue sky
The in-between
Very much

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

First Day of School

She waves goodbye
On her way into second grade
Purple backpack
Blue polo dress
Pig tails
Big smile and
I capture the moment
Post it on Facebook and
Live in it
Off and on
All day
Without fanfare or photographs or more waving
She moves on to the next one