Child Within



A little girl sits on a bench,
swings her legs 
and reads from her book 
of a thousand and one jokes.

I glimpse, in that act, 
a young woman,

and I am thrilled
and deeply
at once.


A look crosses a woman’s face, 

for less than a moment,
too fast 
to be
more than
barely seen.
The girl that once was
comes passing through
a passing thought 

and is caught  
—only not caught—

and gone before 
she is known 
for what she is
or what she was,

left with only the 
memory of 
an expression
of memory

passed beneath the surface.

The little girl is gone.


A little boy cries out
from an old 
man’s face,
the sad one,
the lost one, 
the last one, 

beyond comprehension 
of a hard-won heart.

The learned self-given healing

—even that—
is gone.

as can only be known
to a child is

carried on and on,
a burden that one 
never wants to open.


A son is asked 
by his father

—but it is the cry of the lost boy,
ripped from somewhere deep 
in the old man’s throat—

“Will you be my mommy?”

How can a son answer this,
when his father does the asking?

Is this what it feels like to be born?
To lose forever the warmth
that is still (but now only) 
known from within?

We find us both 
lost past longing
and long past lost.

why this happens to any of us,
this slap that is existence.

A son is carried by his father
for so many years that he is
shocked to realize he is no 
longer being carried, surprised
to find himself standing with 
his own legs under him.


A little girl sits on a bench,
swings her legs 
and reads her book 
of a thousand and one jokes.

I glimpse, in that act, 
a young woman,

and I am thrilled
and deeply
at once.

A Little Grown Up



You are chatting 
with my big brother--your uncle, 
who wants to make cheese--

and cutting up a wedge of Tomme 
de Savoie, explaining to him
how this one is particularly ripe, 

finding its unique, piquant 
funkiness, that sharp bite, little bits 
of mold all through its bloomy rind,

and you are eating the pieces,
bloom and mold and all, and I 
awake, punched through by an ache, 

dumbstruck witness to a growing 
I can not understand, can only stand under,
pulled up by the roots from within me.

Dirt falls back to earth.
Dust drifts down to the floor.
My mouth is full of clay—
“Please, let her take her time.”

Missing (part 4)

Are your words still with you?  Did you
carry your stories deep into 
the night and leave them like luggage
on a railway platform, an age
and more down silver tracks, with just
the wind, the stars, and leaves like dust
blowing and hissing in the dark?

This silence leaves a fading mark.
The thing that took you left your face
in bodies unknown to you, lace
filaments tracing what the eyes
of others cannot see: the ties
that generation takes away;
the look in eyes that cannot stay.

Missing (Part 3)

Part of a series.  Not necessarily in any order.
Part 1 can be found here.
Part 2 can be found here.

What my friend Jeremy, of The Sand County, calls “boundary work.”  Flirting with the edge of meaning, loss and memory.


Do you feel the rain where you are?
Is there water there in the far
reaches of memory? Does time
fall through the air, like brittle rime
crusting the sea? Is this weather?
Tenuous shifts of the tethers
that tie us, each to our own place?

I stand in the rain, raise my face
to the falling sky as my sight
becomes a part of the pale light
that is left to us, and wonder
how we can all be so sundered
and still hold together all this
madness, beauty and darkness.

Three Facets


It is strange to place
a smell that has been so long 
lost to memory,

to realize that
you did not feel its missing
until you found it

waiting for you, a 
breath of absence in the room
that clings and orbits

around you and the 
dying dog.  It is not yours.
It is not a gift.

It is left for us by the
living as they leave. 


It is strange to come 
across a thing waiting just 
here for just you to 

find its missing at 
this right moment, next to the 
kiss that you placed on 

your mother’s brow when 
you asked her if she wanted
to go home to die.

These are not things that
I can understand.  They are
the same life.  Their deaths

smell much the same no matter
who does the dying.


It is a strange place
to find yourself, on this
bare floor between these

two like epigraph
and epilogue, both ends and 
both beginnings,

and arbitrary bookends,
heavy with hollow.  

Who could have guessed that 
you would find your self in this 
simple act, waiting 

for you to tell it apart 
from where you found it?

A trio of haiku sonnets