, ,

Childhood Tales


He doesn’t know how to ride a bike. To whistle.

The words to Miss Suzy escape him, never caught.

He knows to bop a little bunny on the head, but doesn’t

know why or what the bunny’s name once was.

A childhood house built of cigar papers glued with coal mine dust.

There is the cough, the black flint, the orange catch of flame.

Will you whistle now? Ride away? Learn the moral of the story?


This other one knows the inside of an old brown bottle like she blew

it herself. Sour tang of saliva and ferment. Lick the rim, the mouth.

There’s something in there that changes palm to belt, thank you to please.

What can be built with a cigarette’s empty butt, ruby red slash of lipstick,

sweating label of warning words? The hands learn fast, the mouth faster.

Break, don’t build. Suck the bottom from what’s been left.


Shave and a hair cut, two bits from my grandfather’s

pucker, the way he cut down snakes with nana’s blunt-edged

fear and bladed shovels. Racism is allowed if you’ve been

sheriff long enough. All those stories to prove your belief.

We fished for trout in the blue-blue stream. Worms gone still

on the stab of the hook. Crayfish pulled from rockbottom.

Shimmered scales against the bash of rock.

On his knee those summer days is where

I learned to kill things.



Notes: I have no idea where this came from. Well, I do, actually. I was looking at the bike and thinking about a friend who can’t ride a bike. The rest is just nonsense from there 🙂 Just a few more days of poems left. Who knows what will come after?

Read the daily prompt (as well as the inspiration beyond poem-a-day) over at Not Without Poetry. My goal is to write a poem each day in less than 20 minutes, and without additional revision beyond the writing experience