Posts Tagged ‘summer


Just Like In The Old Days

It was a long summer afternoon in the middle of February.
Like when our parents used to shove us out the door-
“Get some fresh air! Go! Play! We’re going crazy with all these kids in here!”-
And you couldn’t get back in unless there was blood or you had to go to the bathroom;
All we saw the rest of the day was a pair of hands at the back door passing items through
(Like Thing from the Addams Family- which I won’t explain- and did I tell you a child asked me about playing Kick the Can on the Internet? Not via but virtually.)
A ball might be handed through the door,
Towels if the sprinkler was on or- if we’d been good- towels and clothespins
So we could play Batman and Superman and woe is you if you got stuck as Robin.
Tuesday we didn’t have Popsicles or towels;
It was only fifty degrees. I can’t remember the last time I saw a clothespin.
We had rocks that no one was allowed to climb on-
They’re on a playground for Pete’s sake!-
And a supposedly decorative red rowboat without an engine or oars
That, despite its newness, keeps falling on hard times and has to have the engine repaired
Or to be rowed to somewhere very far:
The Philippines or the 7-11 to get some Popsicles or to get Dad some more smokes.
We had sidewalk chalk to be used on sidewalks only.
Rainbows of chalk
Dragons of chalk
Blue spiders with fourteen legs but still only two eyes made of chalk.
And we had the swings that can still take you higher, higher, higher…
“Push me till my feet go up in the sky by that airplane. Okay then, how about until they’re above the monkeybars?”
There was magic dust in the sun;
Hardly anyone fought and no one really cried.
Until their parents arrived to pick them up to make them go home for dinner
Then they bawled and said, “Please, two minutes more” just like in the old days.


Boys In Their Summer Haircuts

Jason has a Mohawk.
Sam had a Mohawk too.
Sam’s parents were- shall we say- on the bleeding edge of hip:
Sam didn’t just have a Mohawk, his parents had dyed it with Kool-Aid
And his mother had a tattoo on her lower back that read “Property of”.
Jason’s mother seems to be very conservative and traditional.
I don’t think she got him a Mohawk for cultural reasons;
I don’t think she chose that style because of its punk connotations.
I think it’s just the new variation of the shaved-nearly-down-to-your-head cut
My brother used to get every summer because it’s easy to care for.
Now that style has its own connotations;
Reminding us of skinheads and neo-Nazis.
So we have the Mohawk, which has the added benefit of giving the other boys a look to strive to create
Standing in front of the mirror- with some extra help from the sink-
When everyone rushes in from playing in the rain.-


#55: A Shakespearean Sonnet

Thou canst but hold me Sonnet one more hour
For I must answer Morpheus’ call anon.
Nectar thoughts lie within night’s Jasmine flower
That girds itself ‘gainst a determined dawn.
Morning’s pernicious fingers stealthy creep
Into the Muse’s garden fecund, green;
They roughly rouse Euterpe from her sleep
Seizing delight in snuffing out her dream.
When man is young, beauty’s the needed sprout-
A rosy cheek, verdant laugh, waves of gold;
Then skin turns, limbs do droop, eyelights go out-
Warm summer hath giv’n way to winter’s cold.
It pleaseth Time to make our words go wrong
So heed early and oft the Siren’s song.



It always felt like summer vacation.
Judy Collins sang “Cook With Honey”.
We ate blackberry pie with chopsticks,
Holding our mouths close to our Blue Willow plates.
Hours in the Art Museum and library.
The sharp, salty taste of an old deli.
Watching “Fiddler On The Roof”.
Just for fun, researching the Bubonic Plague.
A Greyhound trip to Denver.
Holiday laughter at the kids’ table.
Falling asleep in her black recliner
With a book and the Sunday paper
On my face and on the floor.
Bob Marley crooning.
Pasta water bubbling.
Tomatoes, onions, garlic simmering,
Veiling the kitchen windows with fog.

A frosty Monday morning.
She’s steamed up the kitchen cooking oatmeal.
Her breathing is harsh and wheezing
When she carries the bowls and brown sugar in to the table.
Her step is steady but a little slower
At least here in the apartment.
She doesn’t seem any more stooped.
She catches me looking.
I think I see a challenge in her eyes.
I quickly look away.
She sits down, straightens, and almost smiles.
We quietly spoon up our oatmeal.
A dog wuffs as it walks up the back stairs.
Anna asks her the big questions she’s brought:
What’s your most valued piece of technology?
What events do you fear?
What do you want most?
I listen for a minute then I lean back
And look at our history hung all over the walls.
Grandma’s children and her children’s children
And the others.
She babysat till she was seventy-five.
After we hug her “goodbye”,
She goes toward the recliner.
(I like to imagine that- like I did-
She’ll be “catching a snooze”.)
“The back porch used to be my office.
That’s where I kept my dress-up clothes,
My colored paper, and my chalk.
No one else was allowed to touch it.”
“You told me that already.
You’re really starting to repeat yourself.”
By the shores of Gitchee Gumee.
St. Patrick’s where they say a Spanish Mass.
Playing “The Minister’s Cat” till midnight.
Eating pink grapefruit with a spoon.
We’re miles away
But now
The fog from her oatmeal
Makes it hard for me to see.


Star Stories

On warm, sunny days I run with my pig-
We race for a seat in our van.
Mom drives out to milepost six-zero,
Piggy and I yell, “Stop! Right here! Please, stop!”
She pulls into a field and parks the van.
We all climb up on top.
My pig and I love the stories Mom tells us about the bright stars:
The giraffe that danced with a turtle,
An orange horse that jumped over flowers.
On the way home, Mom tells us about the maple sugar hero.
My pig and I never get to hear the end.
Piggy and I struggle to keep our eyes open
But the Sandman always beats me.
Darn it!
Somehow he always wins.

This poem was created using words given to me by a group of kindergardeners.