Archive for June, 2013

June 23, 2013

The Coyote and the Full Moon

Photo: Creative Commons

Photo: Creative Commons


under a full moon near the end of june

a coyote wails for companionship in the foothills

the moonlight in all of its splendor halts the dark breezes for the night

to portray the spotlight spectacle that the world expects to see


echoes of a coyote cry seep into fissures in the soil

where the moon can’t reach

until tonight

as if to follow the cries with curiosity


the moon only shows its bright side

but is eager to explore the dark

endlessly nascent in the belief that balance is found from seeking the unknown

in hidden craters

in crevasses

in coyote cries


would the full moon disappoint the world by turning itself

the coyote would continue its dark journey unseen

both content in hiding from the world

their light

their cries

their bodies

their hunger

eternal expectations borne unto them


June 16, 2013

chewing gum


I didn’t know how to tell time then

but every day I knew when

you came home from first shift


I was with mom all day

she needed to make dinner and sat me in front of the tv

to watch Sesame Street and Mister Rogers and Electric Company and Villa Allegre

like clockwork the villa appeared on the screen

with the accompanying chorus of la lala la la

as you pulled into the driveway in our pale green Continental


it was the same Oscar-the-Grouch green

as the Frigidaire

and the carpet

and the bathroom towels

and all of 1975


you walked in the backdoor

clomping in your work boots over a mud rug

you placed your lunch pail on the kitchen counter

queres comer?


I ran from the living room in time to see you exhale

you picked me up in your dirty arms

smelling of machinery oil

and cigarettes

and sweat

and a faded scent of Aqua Velva that was still stuck to your jowl


I nestled my forehead into your neck

you laughed trying to put me down

I grabbed your arms and pressed my face into your lips


you showed me your teeth

as you clenched your Wrigley’s chewing gum for me to see

I leaned in with my mouth like a little Robin pecking for a worm

you gave me your gum before you returned me to the floor

you had to shower before supper


a daily conversation between father and son

in a wordless ritual

I returned to my other ritual in front of the tv until supper

singing la lala la la

between my tongue and my chewing gum



June 9, 2013

the rhythm of an arriving storm

Photo: Minnesota Summer Storm

Photo: Minnesota Summer Storm


atop the roof at the back of my childhood home

I sat, facing southwest

in the summer night the crickets hesitated

the lightning bugs dimmed their tails –

perhaps the sky’s lightning rendered them with feelings of inadequacy

or perhaps nature instilled in them a sense of respect

for the largeness of night

for life’s rhythm

what did the insects understand that I didn’t


with another sequence of flashes

I awaited the delayed rumble of thunder –

the delay that the movies could never get right

even the closest flash of lightning

was followed by some pause before thunder

never thunder at the same time

and never thunder before lightning


in the rumbling a slight breeze scurried over my anxious forearms

a few houses down Mrs. Thurman hummed

as she washed the evening’s dishes

like the crickets

she understood the rhythm of the sky

her hums soothed my skin ahead of the storm


a carp splashed in the river behind my house

then a raccoon trilled cautiously to her young

she’d pulled a fresh clam onto the rocks of the river bank

and wanted them to eat it before the storm arrived

hurry up  hurry up

her babies scooped up every last bit in the flashes of lightning

they waddled back along the bank

the young stood on their hind legs and sniffed the portentous night air


when the sky paused

the crickets stopped chirping

the lightning bugs disappeared

clean dishes were left to dry in the Thurman’s empty kitchen

carp whispered beneath the currents

echoes sounded from empty clam shells


from beyond the lines of tall oaks in the distance

the lightning illuminated bulbous shapes of rolling clouds

that were moving toward my neighborhood

a muffled hum pushed itself northeastward

it grew louder and clearer as it passed through each tree

each leaf was a cymbal against which the wind tapped its rhythm


I heard my dad in the driveway

slam the doors of the car after he rolled up the windows

more lightning flashes came in quicker succession

a neighbor’s restless dog whimpered in a backyard

the rumbles of thunder were quicker and louder

nervous children giggled

their bare feet slapped along the warm sidewalk in front of another house

the approaching wind became a symphony

growing larger

a crescendo


from my crouched position

I stood as large raindrops pelted the rooftop

I pointed my curious nose in the air to sniff at the immensity of moments

and smelled the last moment possible

at the highest sense of elation

before I forced myself back through my bedroom window

attuned to a sublime rhythm



June 2, 2013

The Day Elvis Died

Elvis_Presley_1970 Crop

Photo: Creative Commons

When Jesse found me sitting on the curb, she plopped her chubby body beside me.

I asked her what was wrong –

Elvis died today.

She couldn’t say much more except that it happened at Graceland.

As far as I could figure, Graceland was an amusement park, like Six Flags. Jesse was from West Virginia. So Graceland couldn’t have been far from where she used to live.

I could see her watered eyes underneath her oversized glasses. I looked away at the sky so I didn’t have to fake cry in front of her.

The overcast, damp August day was conducive to other sorts of cries. Summer itself was dying and I knew that soon I’d be starting fifth grade. I held on to that thought as Jesse moaned to herself.

Like Jesse’s face, the day was sullen. I could see it in the way birds sat in the maples in front yards with their wings dangling, in the way the utilitarian houses on my street sighed in the mist, in the way Jesse’s hair clung flat and greasy to her head, in the way that made Graceland sound like a happy word.

I wondered if this was what the sky was like in Graceland. Was it raining and humid and were the dirt roads in West Virginia muddy today for all the people waiting in line for amusement rides?

Jesse said something about seeing Elvis at a concert once.

As far as I could figure, Elvis had become a parody of himself. Up to then, whenever Way Down was on the radio, my friends and I stuffed our shirts and imitated the Vegas Elvis, you know, Pelvis Elvis. Now that he was dead, the uneventful triviality of the song had new meaning.

None of us could make fun of it anymore in the way that we did, especially in front of Jesse.

All this occurred to me when I looked back at her. I looked at her wandering left eye to avoid seeing the dirt smudges on her cheeks.

He died of sleeping pills.

As far as I could figure, somebody was going to be in trouble if he was able to open one of those bottles to take more than he should have, or for having the dose information on the label all wrong.

Jesse pulled out her transistor radio from the pocket of her plastic orange jacket checking for more news. All I could hear was static and broken lyrics of a Loretta Lynn song. Jesse listened intently hoping that somewhere in Loretta’s voice was truth, that the news wasn’t true, that Elvis was alive and that he would wake up from sleep, or if he was dead, it was from something more profound than sleeping pills.

Jesse sighed against the newsless soundwaves and flat sky. Time slowed and sat on the curb next to us.

As far as I could figure, Jesse knew the truth. Her world was changing, growing duller. I could see it before time exhaled, stood and walked away. I couldn’t make time stay nor could I sit on the curb with her forever.

I just hoped that the rain would end by tomorrow so I could have summer back, so my brother and I could follow time to The Capitol Theater to see Star Wars,

and so with the clear sky, Jesse could stay back and listen to fuzzy Elvis songs by herself all day on her transistor radio.


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