Making Sense of Time Passing

Usually the plan is to
read and read and read

the poems of others, until
something strikes my imagination.

This often works, sometimes it is
just a word, like pulsating or

scramble, a pathway to completely
forget that my shoelaces are tied or

that these fingers belong to me.
Lost in the moment, obvious and

unpoetic, then again, also true.
That really so much writing is just

abstract painting, adding color,
a swirl, skip a line, then do it again,

and again, until the crickets outside
sound like laptop keys, and nothing

is lost, not these seconds, not the
clear air of night, not my quiet mind

making sense of time passing,
time passing.

Emergency Money

I have a stack of one-dollar bills tucked away
in a drawer, because a friend told me that when

it happens, cash will be the only way to survive
without internet and impaired technological

devices. When it happens, I suppose I will want to
buy water and Clif Bars, and maybe some chocolate,

easy on the tongue, when everything else fails,
like power lines and no NBA game on TV.

And some days I find myself ruffling through the
bills, counting them up, imagining them tucked

into my jeans as I amble into jagged earthquaked
streets, or knee deep in the water of all demise.

And in these moments, my cherished
money looks like frail pieces of faded paper.

My 9/11/01

the second tower went down
when I was in the car
heard disbelief, NPR like me
unable to stay calm, explaining
the before of white shirts waving for help
specks of humanity jumping out of windows
their hail hit while
I was eating my cereal flakes

at school, televisions on in every room
sirens rushing sound all over screens
the towers falling over and over again
repetition, it happened, it happened

“what does this mean?” I asked my students
as if they knew
“we are going to war,” one said
he wasn’t wrong

I put my classroom flag out in the hall
duct taped it up for all to see
half-staff in my mind
everything in disarray
some TVs stayed on the whole day

kids asked the one teacher from Manhattan
who she knew there
almost excited to hear loss firsthand
like watching people on CNN
holding photos of sisters, mothers, dads
the missing
the forever gone

Stand by Me

We wanted to follow
railroad tracks and sleep
under stars, maybe cook
up hot dogs without
a strict parent seeing
us wipe the grease
on our jeans. This
was 1986 when Polo
shirts were everything, not
following dreams or watching
morning deer, or thinking
about writing, or what
friendship could mean. But
Stand by Me let
in a little light
so we could remember
who we really are.

Our Family Dogs

Sam was short for Samurai,
a lion like Akita, let me eat
from his bowl when no one
else was looking. He killed
neighborhood cats, then
one night a car killed him.

There was Popcorn, named
by my sister, part husky
she loved to run away,
nose against screen door, then
escaped on down the road.
We’d yell Popcorn like circus
vendors, until she came back home.

Ginger was part sheltie, but
thought she was a cat,
never more happy than
sitting on our lap. She
loved us, and we loved her
back, there was no other way.

My Best Moment All Summer

My son made 100 baskets,
really quite a feat, for
he’s not a natural athlete.
He stood in the sun
and watched the rim, again
and again and again. Mostly
he missed, but that was
no matter, because he never
quit. And after many minutes
over an hour, in fact,
he drained his last bucket,
arms triumphant in the air.
I hugged him very close
my best moment all summer