Category: Nostalgia

WHAT YOU MISSED BY NOT GOING TO A ONE ROOM SCHOOL

WHAT YOU MISSED BY NOT GOING
TO A ONE ROOM SCHOOL

Your dad’s initials
jackknifed deep in a desk now yours

The worst teacher in the world
all day every long day for three years
The best teacher in the world
all day every short day for the next one

Watching other kids get the strap
being watched by them when you got it
Beating the big kids in the spelling bee
taking a beating at recess for your trouble

Melting crayons on the tin protector
three feet from the coal stove burn
Home-grown tomatoes sogging
through home-baked bread

Clapping blackboard brushes
upwind of the cough-filled cloud
Green Dust-Bane and a barn broom
pushed across an oiled wood floor

All your enemies, all your friends
no more than twenty feet away

CHILDREN HAVE

CHILDREN HAVE

Children have a great sense of smell

Maybe that’s why
their diapers make them cry

their first
breast sends them
on a lifelong quest
and a cinnamon bun
can stop us all in the mall

On a farm there’s hay
before it goes into the cow
and hay when it comes out

The pungency of pig, the foul of fowl

Rain before the first drop falls
and the whip of lightning after it cracks

Smoke on dad’s clothes from the prairie fire
snuff from the round box cutting his shirt

The dog, even wet, not diminished in love

If lost in a blizzard, or in the dark
it is always best to let go of the reins
so the horse’s nose can point you home

Lost in the world at four a.m.
twice blessed if yours can do the same

ONCE MORE ROUND THE MAYPOLE

ONCE MORE ROUND THE MAYPOLE

In leisure he revisits
things seen but never noticed in his youth
though they lay but a short arms length away

Cow with ingrown horn
then a saw-wire from repair
now metaphor for defense gone wrong

The deep snow forts of play
two Fahrenheit degrees away
from smother and a crying mother

Frost on a winter window
a forest of trees of finest lace
meant too cold to go outside today
now the music of the spheres in form

Best not to be a poet young
very little would get done

ROUND TABLES

ROUND TABLES

He loved his neighbors, but not out loud

(Only by default could we tell if he was proud
men did not hug their friends or children then)

There were no women in the bar
and all the tables round and small
heavy with ashtray and pilsner draft
where they talked code till closing time

Politics of any stripe meant you are my brother
The weather, whatever the weather
meant I love you too