Paradox

Photo by Emma Bauso from Pexels

She toddles down the street    alone  
all of fifteen months    how odd

I park, pick her up
walk a half-block back
to where she might live

a boy in the driveway    maybe five    thwack
of a hockey stick

a face in the kitchen window
when I ring the bell

a mother’s eyes welling          fear
sudden, real

pint-sized princess pulled from my arms

Thanks    flounders in her throat,
shark fins of horror and shame
silencing her tongue, can’t look at me now

thwack of a hand on the boy’s butt
him hauled inside
door slammed shut

No way around it—
to save the day
I had to ruin it.

This poem first appeared in The American Journal of Poetry in 2019. Many thanks to editor Robert Nazarene for accepting it!

The House Of Your Making

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Months now, of leaving and returning,
one birth soothing the long passage
of many griefs at an unexpected death,
your little red suitcase packed and unpacked
so often, it stands ready for the next trip
in a corner of the bedroom.

Months of fashioning a sturdy door
behind which is the home you remember,
opened and closed from a great distance,
a shell you can put your ear to
and be lifted back into a familiar sea.

But the home you remember is not
the home you return to: that mother left,
and was put like a book finally finished
to gather dust on a crowded shelf,
her absence easing a son into his own story.

You stand in the house of your making,
bereft. Once upon a time, you think.
And a dream that has slept for years
in the wide spaces beyond your words,
wakes up like a lion, the darkness roaring
with stars.

This poem concluded my first chapbook, “Stealing Eternity”, still available for purchase (directly from me). You can probably tell from the picture that my little red suitcase is looking a little the worse for wear 15 years later. A lot of stories (poems?) packed in there!