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.

North Pond Hermit

they say he broke
into dozens of homes
to steal calories, for
each winter he had

to survive Maine woods
under sleeping bag after
sleeping bag, wake himself
at 2am some freezing

nights just to move
around and live, not
die of frozen heart
stoppage of blood like

how time stood still
his twenty seven years
alone in trees listening
to the chickadees, chickadees

he listened more than
the rest of us
who were warm watching
M*A*S*H reruns, wondering when

the next war would
begin, but he never
even looked at his
own reflection, didn’t witness

the changing of human
events, his were the
seasons, and the thieving
moments late at night

so he could stay
alone forever, however long
that might be, but
one evening he was

caught and it all
ended, his silent solitude
had to speak again
sad, no longer free

Seeing the Mountain Lion

please let me 
tell the truth
that I saw 
it, the mountain
lion, lithe, yes
springy, legs, twitching
tail, like at 
the zoo but
free on golden
hillside, in California

I had just
eaten a banana
morning at camp
counselor for kids 
with HIV, beautiful

sun peeking through
fog and me
and the young
lion, that I’d
wanted to see
for hundreds of 
miles hiking, camping
hours of night
and nothing, but
longing for wild
but nothing, maybe
a rattlesnake or
coyote, but then

the moment passed
and it moved
down the hill
toward the road

the next day
saw it dead
on the asphalt

I wanted to
take some of
its teeth, save
something, after so
much time waiting
but I let
it rest, sad
it was gone