Butterfly Effect

we used to race caterpillars
up old oak trees, caterpillar
jockeys we were, holding our
sticks, prodding the slow
legged insects to move skyward
sometimes they listened to us
yelling their new names
come on Stripey, faster Laser
tickling bark, up they went or
they’d stop, no telling how it would
end, because the bell always rang
recess done, but they’d keep
climbing higher and higher, or
we imagined they did, ignoring
grammar, staring out windows
gazing to the tallest branches
baby butterflies, blue sky

At 80 Years Old

If I wanted, every day could be a funeral.
So simple, just put a name into the computer,

wait for the obituary to pop up. Those older guys
are gone, my coaches, teachers, even that camp

counselor from Pine Island, up in Maine, he
could hold his breath underwater for 2 minutes.

Never thought they’d all go away, but there’s
the little candle, Legacy.com warming the screen

with another smiling photo. I read all the comments,
deeply miss her, sincere condolences, with such

a heavy heart. And I feel the weight of age with my
scrolling fingers, try to remember the last time I

saw him, her. What did we talk about? Maybe I’ll
google their kids, see where they ended up.

Minutes pass and I close the laptop,
pretend they’re all still alive.

My Favorite Dream

My favorite dream was when I flew,
as bird or angel, ethereal, I never saw

halo or feathers, or looked at myself in
a mirror, only knew that I could soar high

up in clouds, skim over fields or shingled
rooftops, able to control all this grace.

So I floated back to Taylor Elementary,
hovered by a window, staring at kids writing

in their 6th grade classroom, when I saw him,
a boy I recognized, holding a #2 pencil,

tongue slightly out, concentrating, filling
up notebook lines. I watched for a long while,

then realized he was me.

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.