When I swung forward, I leaned back so far that the trees were upside down. I enjoyed the giddy feeling in my stomach, but eventually the rope burned my hands and I got off the swing and swayed, slightly dizzy, on the ground. The rope was tied to a tree limb at the top and to an old tire at the bottom. I looked down the gentle hill at the carpet of brown and yellow leaves which gave way to grass and then our house and then more grass and then Freeport Drive and then the hill where I rode my bike and the freedom of being 10 years old in Burlington Massachusetts circa 1980. Continue reading Freeport Drive
We entered the sandy arena three abreast and stopped in the center. We raised our trumpets, flags adorning the extra-long bells, and began to play. I have always gotten a thrill from the bright sound of tightly harmonized trumpets, especially when I have helped produce it. Halfway through, the two trumpeters on the outside turned to face opposite sides of the arena as we built to a climax.
When we were done, we marched out of the arena, through a hall and up some stairs to a small unadorned room, a closet really, where our instrument cases were kept and where we spent most of our time. We listened to the muffled noise from the arena as the knights were trotted out and attempts were made to whip the audience into a frenzy, waiting for our next cue. Continue reading With Fanfare, and Without
I used to walk with the dog, but her broken foot won’t permit that any more. It feels selfish to be glad about that — no more stopping to sniff every ten feet, to circle and ruminate on the rotation of bowels until I finally lose patience and give the leash a tug. I just want to walk, hands in pockets, podcast in ears, legs in steady rhythm. Continue reading Night Walks
I was a good kid. Never made any trouble. Mostly I sat with my forehead against the school bus window feeling the rumble of the engine transfer to my brain box.
My friend Mike was more of a troublemaker. He got into an argument one morning and punched another kid on the arm. It was not much of a punch, but the kid wailed and the harried bus driver stopped the bus. Her hair was like a cloud of angry bees. At least that’s how I remember it. When we got to school, Mike was sent to the principal, his face in a resigned grimace that showed his experience in this kind of situation. Continue reading Good Kid
My daughter Kathryn sat on the toilet, her face red with frustration. She had been yelling “Mama” at the top of her lungs, but Mama hadn’t come. Papa had come instead, and this wasn’t acceptable to her 3-year-old mind. She tottered on the edge of the toilet, her pink cotton dress pulled up, her short hair encircling her miserable face. I knew I would get nowhere with her–she is not to be reasoned with in such a mood–and I left to get her mother. Continue reading Oweanka
I suggest the image of a man and a woman. The woman has just finished showing the man pictures of dogs, a boyfriend, an old house; and she has put the pictures away and leaned back on the bed to look at the ceiling. The man is sitting on the bed, turned towards her, supporting himself with one arm, enjoying his angled perspective on her face. It is midafternoon, overcast, quiet. The uncertain light enters through a window above the bed. Continue reading I Suggest
We stopped on a face of sheer rock overlooking the valley. The late fall foliage scorched the base of Mount Monadnock, and a mist filled the gaps. A storm was coming, and the wind was beginning to show its teeth. It would be bitter cold at the top. We sat down to eat our lunch before continuing up, my father and I. Continue reading The Summit
“Let me tell you a story.”
The girl stared at the ceiling, and as her father sat on the edge of the bed she scooted back to keep her distance. She sighed meaningfully while her father began talking.
“When I was in high school they had a big Trivial Pursuit contest out on the quad.” The girl had never played the game, and probably didn’t know what a quad was, but she didn’t ask for clarification so her father pressed on. “We had a pretty good team. We were all honors students. Continue reading Cheaters
A little space here
which I have walked into
where love resides but lies hidden,
gathers dust. A quiet space
where love resides but relaxes
and changes its clothes.
I can’t make it out.
The light is uncomfortably dim,
but comfortable almost in the non-knowledge
that love resides,
that it rests in a chair, which squeaks,
and carries on its business.
Answers letters, pays bills,
A small space,
but freedom to move,
and a window, thankfully, hopefully,
upon the world.
[Full disclosure: this is poem #6 in a series of poems mentioned here.]