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

THE ALBUMS

THE ALBUMS

Mother’s shrinkage was marked by domicile

House, apartment, retirement and nursing home
shedding at each move, furniture, china, and art
except for, and never, the old photo albums
heavy in padded leather brown and green

Each visit when conversation stuttered to a stall
(Religion all but Baptist drowned
and what use is weather without crops)
out would come the albums
and in we all would dive
for pennies
bright and shiny at the bottom of the pool

Here’s one from 1958
how young the queen looked then

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

A STONEBOAT STORY

A STONEBOAT STORY

Rough planks across two wood-beam runners
low and tough enough to tip a heavy rock on
or haul the cleanings of the stalls in winter

Learning to stand in loose-kneed balance
full speed behind fast homing horse
across the frozen tracks and turds
on the way back to the barn

Buff off of Oahu teaching me to surf
I think “Just like this”
until the big wave comes and says “Not quite”

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