13 June 2008

Youthful Arrogance

I am their teacher, and they are arrogant.
I notice first when they state their opinions
as high school juniors:
Whitman is a poor poet,
Dickens doesn't know how to plot,
Cisneros can't create character,
but Plath touches the soul.
They are so sure of their opinions,
and each one is a young professor grading.

They return after a year at college,
just for a visit with the high schoolers,
full of information on the solutions of life,
how they see through the authorities
They continue to grade.
Sharing with the youngsters the secrets of
whom to listen to,
whom to ignore,
what freedom is really like
which sins can and have been secretly performed.

And I wonder, as their attitudes repulse me,
at the mercy of an ageless, eternal God
who tolerates my youthful arrogance
as I place on them my presumptuous grade.

10 June 2008

Matthew 1968-1970: A Haibun

originally published in Contemporary Haibun Online

The brother is five and in kindergarten, and by the next morning Matt is gone with no chance for the brother to say, "Thanks for hanging out with me, little brother," or "Catch you later." Just gone like the summer or the circus or lost change. And his father tells him Matt is gone to be with Jesus and he loves him as he carries him from his grandparents back to his house where his mother tells neighbors none of it seems real. He hears cats underneath the house that day, crying in that moaning, chilling way wild cats do, and he thinks it is a baby crying, and he thinks they have hidden Matt somewhere in the back of the house. His friend's parents bring him a giant box of crayons, and he goes outside.

swing set abandoned
wind driven motion
creaking without child

The brother is forty, and he finds Matt in a dream. They stand on a grassy field underneath an oak tree, and they are face to face. Matt is in his late thirties with his hand on the tree, and he is leaning in so much like their father with his round face and full pouting lips, smiling at the corner.

oak tree summer breeze
wind driven motion
creaking without child

The brother apologizes then--in words as cheap and hollow sounding as pennies falling in the washing machine-- apologizes for living, confessing his guilt of survival to Matt as they stand, two adult men, one living, one dead. He will never forget what Matt says to him. "Why are you sorry for me? For over thirty years I have been in the presence of God. What have you done in the last thirty years?"

oak tree summer breeze
wind driven motion
creaking lullaby

08 June 2008

A Note to Badger's Parents With Enclosed Check

We are sorry that our dog slipped away from our daughter.
We are sorry that our dog is a better fighter than yours.
We are sorry about the damage done to your dog whom you love as a child.

But most of all
we are sorry that at the end of the night you have nothing more to love
than a dog.
We are sorry that you can't be loved by a little girl who feels guilty about letting a dog escape her
and who wants nothing more than to curl up between her parents
not at the foot of the bed.


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