. . . We’re captive on the carousel of time . . .
Joni Mitchell, The Circle Game

On a street corner in Manhattan,
she serenaded passersby with
You Light Up My Life,
barely three but right on key.
Yesterday a child came out to wonder

At four, Somewhere Over the Rainbow
in Toledo, standing on a folding metal chair
in the church basement,
my brother’s wedding reception.
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar

Tomorrow came and she, a perfect Annie,
hair curled, front teeth gone.
Called on to perform, she would,
needing the spotlight to be seen.
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder

She would get into trouble humming in class,
not even knowing she was doing it.
Like a nervous tic, I suppose.
I always knew where she was. I could hear her coming.
And fearful at the falling of a star

In high school between tennis matches,
she opened baseball games
with the National Anthem.
Acapella. Perfect pitch.
And the seasons, they go round and round

Six-two, love-six.
From the courts,
down and across the street to the ball field,
then back again. Five minutes.
Seven-five. No sweat.
And the painted ponies go up and down

We could hear her over
the ball field loud speaker,
all the way back at courtside,
voice strong and clear and pure.
We can’t return, we can only look

She always sang it straight,
on grass or stage,
not trying to be anyone
other than, herself.

Behind from where we came

And now, it’s been a very long time
since I’ve heard her.
The melody locked up and kept inside.
No time or place or reason
to sing her song.
And go round and round and round
In the circle game.


Traveling Abroad

She’s gone . . .
on the ultimate cultural
exchange program.
Total immersion.

She’s crossed over
to another world
with her passport of pain.

She has become fluent
in a new language,
and has forgotten her own.

We can’t seem
to understand her . . .
and need an interpreter.

She travels light,
with nothing but
fear and shame
as her companions.

When will her visa expire?
She doesn’t know,
we don’t know.
There is no itinerary.



I know she’s thirty . . . but
she needs her blankie.

Can she have it . . .
in the Wapato city jail?

She’s never slept
without it.

Oh, the comfort of
that tattered, yellow rag . . .

a soft, thin veil
of relief from

the secrets and lies,
shame and worry.

She needs her blankie.
Can she have it . . . please?




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One Response to “Poetry”

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Lots of good work here. The pain is captured in strong images. I think you have a good rhythm. I’m not at all surprised to hear you’re reading your work in public and winning poetry prizes. You deserve that. What do you write about besides your daughter?

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