You’ve seen a lot of things, I’m sure
the land of Flarmp, a wandering dellacur,
but have you ever seen or thunk
about the purple punk-a-lunk?
The punk-a-lunk, they say,
eats 14 jibble cores a day
(but only ones you’ve thrown away).
It slurps them up into it’s trunk,
that tiny little punk-a-lunk,
then yawns contentedly and flies away,
or that’s at least what experts say.
It has orange stripes upon its side
and pinkish eyes 12 inches wide.
Its tail is green and full of scales;
its wings stretch out like flowing sails.
It snuggles with you while you sleep
and is as soft as a lurpa-sheep,
though if you ever try to peep,
the punk-a-lunk will start to weep
and will not stop its little cry
until the sun is in the sky.
But should you be content to wait
with jibble cores laid out as bait
and never even move or peek
the punk-a-lunk will kiss your cheek,
and in the morning you might see
it roosting in a nearby tree.
It will not grant a wish or speak
but should your way appear too bleak,
fear not, little one, though your path may wend,
or the whole world seem ripe to end;
all wounds of life belief will mend,
so the punk-a-lunk is your best friend.
First you take a giant pot
Then fill it with water, piping hot
Combine with two whole ears of corn
And half a t-shirt that’s been gently worn
Taste with old can on a broom for a ladle
Then mix in tomatoes smashed flat on a table
Add orange and apple pie juice to the broth
Then stir the whole mess with an old stiff washcloth
You throw in you sister when the water is cold
Plus three-year-old cheese that is covered with mold
Then spill the whole gwiggle pie soup on the floor
Take the can off the broom and sweep it all out the door
Then sit back and relax, my good chef, you deserve it
Your work is all done before you even serve it!
For you know the best part about gwiggle pie soup?
You don’t have to eat it—because it eats you.
This was a fun poem to write because I didn’t do it alone. My silliness rubs off a lot on my kids, and my three-year-old started telling me about this crazy idea she had for a thing called “gwiggle soup.” The “pie’ part came later, as I egged her on, asking her questions and taking notes of the ingredients on my phone.
Two little girls went out for a walk
in the chilly autumn air,
and they gathered handfuls of leaves as they talked,
and the leaves were as gold as their hair.
They followed the path that cut through the park
and wound with a slow little creek.
They never minded the frost on the bark
or the cold wind that bit at their cheeks.
They fed the ducks leaves from the withering trees,
but the ducks didn’t seem to care
I said with a sigh that ducks didn’t eat leaves,
but the girls only wanted to share.
Drugs clear bloodshot eyes
for work but not tears in the
eyes of those I’ve hurt.
It’s a brisk morning,
the kind that only comes on the cusp of spring
where the sun is high and warm and
burns the frost off the greening grass
but hasn’t yet burned it from the air.
“It’s cold,” I tell her as I go out.
She pushes hard on the screen door
and steps barefoot onto the concrete,
holding her arms up toward me
and trying to dance away the cold.
She’s still in her shrinking, mismatched PJs.
There’s a hole in her left pant leg.
“Get me get me!”
I pick her up and carry her with me to the shed,
showing her how the latch on the fence works,
letting her open it when we come back through.
“Daddy, what dat?”
She points at the swing set.
We found it on a yard sale page,
dog-chewed and sun-stained
I scavenged and swapped out parts for her,
but winter hasn’t let her play on it yet.
“That’s your new swing set. Wanna try it out?”
I put her on the see-saw.
“Hold on tight, sweetheart.”
I push her as the wind blows.
The sunlight bleaches her hair,
and her laughter mingles with the bird songs.
Tomorrow is the Equinox, but
for me it’s spring already.
Holding the sheep calms her,
makes her feel safe,
maybe because she thinks
about the sheep instead of herself—
or because it absorbs her little tears—
or maybe just because she believes in it.
Whatever the reason,
holding the sheep is always enough,
which makes me wonder what was happening
last night in her dreams
that made it necessary for the sheep
to hold her instead.
“Fifi” was my daughter’s best attempt to say “sheep” when she was very young and received the stuffed animal from her aunt. Although she’s two now (and can say “sheep” without difficulty), the name has stuck, and the sheep is as much a part of her daily routine as her meals and time on the swing set. She drags it everywhere, and she never sleeps without it. This morning I asked my daughter what she had dreamed about, and she said “I dream Fifi hold me!”
When she’s old enough to understand, I’ll have to thank my her for all the poem fodder.
Her chubby fingers barely wrap
around the white chain case,
and her little legs barely hang
over the edge of the plastic seat,
but her smile—
her smile fills her entire face
when I push her on the swing.
Legal papers litter the table,
the family huddles together in the living room.
It’s time to say goodbye.
There’s a desperate sucking of air
through tear-burdened throats
as they hug each other one last time.
A sibling hands her a teddy bear.
“We’ll get you back,”
her mother chokes on the words,
her eyes wide and wet.
“Don’t let them take me, Mommy!
“I don’t wanna go, please…”
Her dad scoops her up and kisses her,
breathing in her smell.
“I know, sweetheart,” he says, his voice shaking.
“We’ll get you back. I promise.
Be strong for me, okay?”
“Okay,” but the tears don’t stop.
He carries her to the door
she’s been in and out of most of her life,
only this time she might never come back in.
Her mother clutches her hand
as she leads her siblings behind.
Outside is a flag over the garage,
a crowd of protestors,
and a black car that will take her away.
Shutters snap as they walk under the flag,
her sister breaks away, screaming:
Her mother holds her back with one arm,
she screams too:
“I love you, Lexi!”
There is no fear in her voice,
but it’s there, in her eyes.
The girl is strapped into the car with strangers.
Her small hands clutch at the bear.
Her father says goodbye through blurry eyes.
“We’ll fight for you, Lexi!”
They walk back under the red, white, and blue flag,
because this is America,
where 1.56% Choctaw blood
is more important than a family.
Seven years of pictures and videos—
senior year in high school, backpacking.,
two year mission, away at school,
engagement pictures, honeymoon travels,
first home, moving in, a floppy-eared puppy,
the pacific coast, camping in redwoods,
snorkeling in the Bahamas, pregnancy,
firstborn child, first steps,
hiking, public parks, reunions, birthdays,
second child, first words, evenings playing at home—
two hundred and fifty gigabytes of memories
meticulously backed up to the hard drive
whenever a device filled up.
If it had only 3 megabyte pictures
it would have held eighty-thousand of them.
Twenty-two straight hours
of seeing through lenses—
if it only took one second
to realize each moment,
put it on hold,
raise the camera,
and take the shot.
To watch it all in a slide show
would have taken days.
Days of the choicest moments of their life together,
times when they interrupted what was happening
to record a piece of it, trusting
they would always have the piece.
Seven years of life
perched treacherously on the piano.
little feet climb the bench
small hands find the hard drive
curious fingers fumble.
it falls to the ground.
It looks unharmed, but it’s not working.
They ship it out, they get a quote.
“Fourteen hundred dollars?!”
They think of seven years.
“We won’t miss the money,
but we will always miss the memories.”
And they’re right.
A tax return comes through.
and give the go-ahead, hoping,
willing to do without to resurrect
Weeks pass, an email comes:
the drive is broken beyond repair—
and seven years go out with the trash.
Everybody in my family has different hands.
Ayden’s hands are short and agile for a two year old.
They love to turn the pages of books, fit puzzle pieces
together, and play games on touch screens.
Ellie’s hands are small and slow.
She reaches up to be held and rubs her sleepy eyes
with her chubby little fist.
Her hands love to clap and explore textures.
My hands are coarse, hard and practiced,
dexterous as a monkey climbing a tree.
But my wife’s hands,
my wife’s hands are soft and thin
and fair like a porcelain doll,
smooth as a polished vase but warm
as a mountain meadow in springtime and
every bit as fragrant,
gentle as a silken petal brushing my cheek,
and when she touches me
her hands are the doll,
the meadow in Spring,
the pedal on my cheek—