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
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,
hard not to smile
when thinking that this
is one of my
favorite things in life
to put four words
on line after line
free to do this
when dishes are done
and the kids are
in bed, and no
one is speaking, not
even the incessant TV
can reach me now
for here it is
just one word, then
the next, neatly placed
like scrabble or a
crossword puzzle, or some
other kind of activity
where concentration is everything
anyway, this is mine
this little moment here
inside my brain’s imagination
where anything is possible
12am, my usual quitting time, when the
Cherry Coke has run out and I’m done
munching on plain M&M’S, and whatever
I’m writing or reading starts to repeat over
and over, telling me the night is complete.
But sometimes I have to push the clock back,
mix water in with the caffeine and sugar, stay
hydrated, which leads to bathroom, me walking
empty hallway corridors after 2am, maze of fluorescent
lit academia, everyone else sleeping, sleeping.
I turn off my ghosts are real imagination
and focus on whatever I’m thinking about,
Ambrose O’Higgins or some other obscure figure
from South America’s past, when turning the corner
on my way back to study, he screams, I scream.
A freaked out bearded janitor and me like looking into a
mirror seeing myself older with blotchy skin, but same
expression of holy mother of, until we both figure it out and
smile, laugh in fright, then wordlessly walk past each other
into the building’s vacant night.
Standing as if a sundial, my hand, a glove shadowing time.
Waiting for the ball I blink, wink, chew gum, itch my rear,
because nobody is watching me out in the wilderness where
gnats and sun, smell of cut grass envelop me, make me
a tall insect wearing stripes, socks hiked up high. I pace, shuffle
cleats, shout “Hey Batter, Batter,” as if my distant voice matters.
Take away white lines, the small crowd, he’s just a bushy haired
boy in a quiet meadow, looks like he might be talking to himself.
Or god knows who he is or what he is doing out there alone, a
quiet king with monarchs that flutter by. Until wooden bat breaks
daydreams, interrupts his nature, baseball soars over his head.