After School

In the afternoon,
when our class let out
and the last sniffling little girl,
and bullying overgrown boy had left,
I would stay at my desk for a while
in the stillness, the silence,
and secretly despise
those smarter than me
or tougher
or the ones who would
not even play with me
or let me see
what they had in their lunch-boxes.
Then I would softly descend the stairs,
cross the sports field,
slip into the woods to the pond,
where I’d scoop up tadpoles in my bare hands,
and then release them back
into their brown water home.
I loved the damp smell,
the closeness of the ghost-like trees,
even the occasional ugly toad
that didn’t hop away at my presence,
but merely eyed me
from the opposite bank,
watched me trap those tiny wriggling creatures
with surprising interest.
Those inquisitive toads
stopped me short of hating everything.

From Then Until Now

In ancient times,
in a lab of warm,

shallow seas,
chemical elements

formed amino acids,

polynucleotide chains
which could replicate themselves,

form single-celled beings;
look at us now:

you living in a condo
with a great view of the city,

working out daily
in the gym

two floors below;
me with my own home,

jogging through
the neighborhood

every morning
before work;

that primordial
mix and match

was all the start
we ever needed.


It’s not like it was in the old days.
I wonder how old you have to be to say that.
No only to say it but believe it.

Can a quiet afternoon with cronies
at the local donut shop
offer less comfort, less hope,
than being shot at in some foreign country?
Even the black guy joins in.
Don’t tell me he’s nostalgic for Jim Crow.

The script is always the same.
The politicians are crooked.
The comedies aren’t funny.
Young girls have more tattoos
than sailors.
And everybody under fifty
is always on the phone.

Someday, I’ll join them.
For now, I merely complain about them.

A Class Called Poetry 101

I’m teaching a class called Poetry 101
Rule number one.
Poetry is not cathartic.
It’s just words
that look like poetry on a page
and sound like poetry
when spoken.
Having written a poem,
you won’t have suddenly
and miraculously
cleansed yourself
of all inner angst.
You’ll just be a poet.
For example,
I absolutely despise
teaching Poetry 101.
I’d rather a week of two
on the rack
or do demos for
an Iron Maiden manufacturer.
But before me are twenty
ugly looking louts
who lack even the aesthetic sense
of a warthog
and I’m supposed to
coax them into expressing
their Neanderthal hearts and minds.
I’d rather write a poem
about how miserable it is
to teach a class called Poetry 101.
It’s cathartic
despite what your teacher tells you.
Which brings me to rule number two.
If you follow the rules,
you’re no poet.