Summer Beard

Whiskers start in June
mostly black, some gray
pushing through skin
like sunflowers they emerge
carefree, unrestrained by razors
of other seasons
when they are scraped away
like speckled truth
man’s primitive nature hemmed.
Summertime, I let them grow for days
like a backpacker searching
for my lost youth.
Long hours of shadowy sun
my face like time
standing still.


In the air I’m a kid, split second floating, suspended, before gravity tugs me back to the coiled elastic mat. Legs, torso, shoulders, body of pounds, my weight denting the flexible floor. Calve muscles support the landing, trembling energy moving like a feeble pogo stick. Is that all you’re gonna do, just sit there jumping up and down? My daughter asks. As if I have a choice, as if I could leap spontaneously, do a flip or twist. I smile watching her limbs lunging carefree, that song Riptide playing in the background, the one we both like. This is all I can do, but I won’t stop. I say like the middle-aged man that I am. Do a trick, come on, she cajoles. Deliberate, I push harder, hop higher, watch this, touch my toes in mid air. That’s your best? She laughs. I just grin, glad that I’ve fooled her, glad that she thinks there’s more in the tank.

Ashes to Ashes

Ashes to ashes, funk to funky. I’ve never really thought about what those Bowie lyrics mean, but as I age the ashes have begun to appear here and there. They’ve been getting cremated, them, those people, the ones I used to know. My geometry teacher from high school, that dad who drove carpool years ago, my old girlfriend’s father. Usually men go first, into the ceramic vases, urns, boxes; some permanently placed on mantles, others spread in oceans, on mountaintops, even on golf courses. Dead in walls, in graves, in the sky, blown away, everywhere, nowhere. Morbid, I know, but the wheel of life turns and we all get cast off the ride. No more popcorn.