Tag Archives: Childhood

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

HI HO HI HO

HI HO HI HO

Work

I sometimes think about it, but not too hard

Like, shouldn’t there be a different word
for doing what we love or hate, for money

Like how I got to drive big trucks at eighteen
that I dreamed about at eight
and they paid me

Like playing cowboy and riding the range
where the deer and the antelope play
and getting paid

Building buildings bigger than Lego
and getting paid

Maybe work is about being serious
but I seriously question that too

I mean, what can be more joyous and serious
than a child adding one last block to his tower
or me, as I write this poem, and look up
to see it is 1:25 in the morning

MOTHER’S POEM

MOTHER’S POEM

The kitchen has always been the center
of the universe of any farm or ranch

She feeds their sleepy forms in morning
clothes them for the cold or warm
and prays them safe from harm

Looks out her window to the East
where barn shadows and rolling hills
greet them as they start their day

Men in firm direction to their work
children scattering to play

The South across the lake to catch
the water’s mood foretelling wind or calm

Sometimes
sees in morning
mirages of cut banks rising
like mountains along the Eastern shore

Or more directly to the South
forms of her old neighbour’s homes
rising and shimmering
like memories of her youth

Seasons spiral out and in from this center
crocus and buttercups in the greening grass
cactus flowers and the joy of newborn calves

The growing season of the grain
and golden glory of a well stooked field

The shortening of days into winter
and the ever present stars
joined by the dance
of Northern
lights

Within each season she has watched
the play of seasons of each day
men return from roundup
children from their play

While she waits always at the center
to warm and love and feed

and safely tuck away

HOME MADE ICE CREAM

HOME MADE ICE CREAM

When I was five we lived on a ranch
still forty miles and forty years
away from electric power

We only got to eat ice cream
when hail lay deep enough on the ground
to be scooped in the old hand mixer

Many a hot evening in August and July
five of us sat on those hard ranch steps
looking out at the Western sky

Watching the black clouds and the grey
building and rolling our way

Silently praying our protestant hail Marys
four for and Dad against