Parenthetical Courage

.

How close were you dad (here he peers
down plastic sights of a painted gun)
to the bad guys when you shot at them?

I had to say (I hoped) in a way
that would not forever break his aim,
I had to say (as hidden as the thing had stayed!)
that I never got that close.

But I was available,
I promised my apology,
had someone simply asked me to.

And that much was surely true
but that much was not enough
to burn me into some hell where
the blood of better men dried
and caked and made crispy
little cards of the sand.

That much was not enough –
as apologies never are.

Were you good at shooting dad and
should I close one eye when I aim?
You should aim I said
(he couldn’t know how blindly)
with every eye you can open.

Summerthieves

Honor that Golden Rule

I wrote this originally in 2010. I’ve made a revision or three, but it’s still hokey and cheesy in places, especially the end. Every now and then you just embrace the sentimental, and I don’t know a better time for it than the beginning of Fall. It’ll still be Fall here in May of course, and you can expect a very different brand of sentiment out of me at that point.

At Once Against and With the World

Autumn starts for me like this,
with an evening’s cold, capricious kiss,
chiding me to stay alert
that I don’t miss my turn to flirt.

I shuffle down the dim-damp walks,
with lamps on slightly swaying stalks,
shouldering the feathered leaves –
those brittle-falling summerthieves.

And here the hub of town comes near,
with its public houses pouring beer
colder even than the air.
Because it’s close and warm in there,

I go inside against the cold,
where I like to think we’re men of old,
and on every wooden bench and stool
sits a girl – an honored golden rule.

They’ve hung their woolen coats on hooks,
the boys are warming them with looks.
A suggestive stitch, a hopeful hem,
autumn’s stockings, October gems.

In here we work with noble tones
toward a sense of coming home.
Because man is tempted to his best
when woman is so smartly dressed.

When everything to do’s been done,
we wrap the prizes we have won
as close to us as we are able,
and leave the rest upon the table.

Warm within and cold without,
It’s easy to forget about
The discomfort we’re supposed to know,
And on our brazen way we go.

Fall is where the season’s heart
Truly shows the human art
Of marching out with soul unfurled –
At once against and with the world.