peevish

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and my son said his was people who say ‘baggies’
but i thought peeves would be more prevalent
and i replied ‘you must know more drug dealers than i do’
and i imagined wesley snipes new jacking with ‘baggies’
and ice-t laughing in his face
but my son had lost interest

Campcraft

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Cardboard as tinder, strips tightly
wound and set amongst the ashes, like
a pan of cinnamon rolls.
My fingers, uncharacteristically sure
of themselves, place kindling within the whorls;
sticks and twigs he gathered and
left as an uncertain offering at my feet.

It catches, the fire.
Licks and bites and snaps,
crawls and claws its way from
base to wisping logs in a
desperate clutch.

It’s a thing I know:
heat, fuel, air is a fire.
So few equations seem as reliable, now;
unexpected results, ineffectual and
laughable, in-my-faceable.
But this
one thing
I can do.

His equation has grown exponentially,
from heat, fuel, and air to givens
I no longer recognize,
variables I don’t understand.

And so my fingers shake as I lay his kindling in
precarious motion,
fearful
of stifling and
squandering and
leaching
until all that remains is my
desperate clutch.

Sicilian Wit

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I blame Sophia.
If Dorothy was quick
her mother was prescient,
only waiting long enough to bind
her barb in space and time,
and so affirm causality.

After a lifetime
mainlining marathon reruns
her spirit rides my soul,
goading me with a beaded purse while
sotto-voccing snide rejoinders
into the minutest caesura of life.

She will not be silenced.

Yet

this pillar of faith, loitering
in the House of God turns in his pew
to dismiss these lawless thugs

this servant of community, rotating
my tires warns of their
parasitism and lack of insurance

this bumper of a judge-not worshiper, proclaiming
‘BAN THEM’ throughout the church parking lot
but never, no never, our guns

I am silenced.

Worldview

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I screamed
when I first saw him,
a bounding black cloud
thundering toward my horizon:
a boy looking for a friend.

He stayed with us
until that day
I had to stack the shelves and sweep the floors,
direct customers to the canned
whole chickens in aisle five

while They did whatever it is They do
to friends who once escaped the yard
to find
me at school during recess and
the principal let me walk him home but
who can’t walk anywhere anymore.

So, I get it.

But when my son’s eyes are red-rimmed and
welling with rage at yet one more
failure / betrayal / Talk
with a father trying too hard
because

he knows what’s coming demands more than
paper-or-plastic or expired milk or stray carts and
his son bears the brunt of that fear until
their ties twist taut and love becomes
a strained and brittle mask,

please forgive my snicker at your dog-parent sticker.

Castles

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‘I don’t know,’ I say to those who ask.
And I don’t. Know.
Why the spires, rifts, domes.
Why the channels, depressions, slopes.
Why spheres.
‘Maybe you should’, says my son, ‘build an actual…castle?’
But I know
what those are, and what they’re for.
So they stop to explore these abstralien sandscapes,
wondering
at the meaning of my creation, and my purpose.
No plan guides my tremorous fingers that
mold and shape and smooth the forms
that form without me.
Arches fall and towers crumble, collapse under
misplaced knees and thoughtless feet.
These places weren’t meant to be, let alone
last even through a day or night or hour.
They are self-serving, imposing haphazard order
on an idle chaos minding its own business.
God took six days, so they say, plus time to rest,
yet I spare only the morning
because I have other plans.
They, too, are as hasty in their admiration which
so fickley turns to mischievous destruction by
toddlered toes, unleashed paws, and cruelty.
Even seagulls are dismissive of my walls, perching with
prejudice until the structures crack to expose
my lack, and my depravity.
Six days seems equally rash, short-sighted and shrifted
given the scope of eternity, of all the hairs on all our heads.
So we blear and smear and have trod among
God’s almighty spires in ignorance and arrogance,
wondering
at His meaning, and His purpose.
Yet He had no other plans and
His fingers do not tremble, and
His walls were built counting on our cruelty to
crack them
and expose yet more layers of perfection.