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

WORKING WITH FATHER

WORKING WITH FATHER

In the short days of a long winter
we sort nuts, bolts, and washers
against the busy days of summer

Place them in well marded bins
accompanied always by his mentor’s
Never waste five dollars worth of time
looking for a five cent bolt

The 9/16th fine-threads do not go in
with the regular or coarse

When you’re four
it’s not hard to get up
at four to ride in the cattle
truck to the city with your dad
excitement keeps you awake all night

There are knots you need to know
reef, sheepshank, and the ever
popular bowline that can still
be undone even after looping
a red bull weighing a ton

Hook the twine around your
little finger just son, in a way
that I could never get,
three turns and knot
the gunny sack
in two seconds
flat

Heel that calf, or turn the herd
drive the truck at the perfect speed
to catch the combine
on the fly

There is a great deal of pleasure in
doing something right, when right
is the only way anything should
ever be done

But never far, even yet
from the red-black cloud
of doing it wrong

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

THE HAUNTING

THE HAUNTING

The banshees and banishees are
still flying around in my head

Even though the banishers
are elsewhere or dead
and can’t send me without supper
cold and lonely to my bed

Hunger was always lonely
and lonely hungry behind that door
it’s easy to get things mixed up
when you’re four

But I’m still
eating today when you send me away
and probably will until
I pluck the i from the banishee