Poetry Here (Mostly)

Posts tagged ‘Childhood’

The Way of the Cross #245

I grew up in Brooklyn,

our rooms hitched together

railroad style, on one floor,

life just a shout away.


I was less than seven

when rheumatic fever

took my teen-aged cousin,

I have vague memories.


A priest gave his parents

the coffin crucifix,

for solace I suppose.

They nailed it to the wall.


My aunt and uncle’s house

country chirps and quiet.

Bedtime forced me upstairs,

to find my way alone.


Had to pass the Jesus

a funeral had risen.

Could not avoid his gaunt

body or naked eyes.


Across the hall, from where

I went to bed, should have

been my cousin’s room. Still

displayed his model planes.


I feared hurting someone’s

feelings, living, dying,

or dead, if I revealed

how ill at ease I felt.

Bells (#237)

The sizzling boulevard climbed and where

it daled, I waited for a downtown 1.

Shielded by beige hat and cheap sunglasses,

I unfolded my number’s bus schedule,

read, folded, then unfolded it again,

took refuge in its printed promises.


Mad dragon, August, unreasonably

blasted the bus stop’s bench un-seatable.

No oasis in the desert blue sky,

but in cement-rooted neighborhood,

a maturing tree in a square-cut bed

cast a small shadow over the sidewalk.


A younger woman and I shared thin shade,

communicated with our quiet smiles.

Blessed Sacrament bells soon counted ten.

Steepled keepers of our precious hours,

ringing time awakened our memories.

Her voice tolled with childhood recollections.


“In my country, I grew up on a farm

where only the village church bells kept us

informed of the day’s hourly progress.

A clock was a rich person’s luxury,

but the bells were enough for most of us,

they used to tell me when to go to school.”


I chimed in about Sundays in Brooklyn

when insistent bells commanded our Mass

attendance, early, mid-morning, or late.

Then, services and priests were plentiful

and Catholics feared and felt obligated

to obey our so-called Mother, the Church.


The bus came after we’d exchanged stories.

One after the other we showed passes

that passengers, who ride often, purchase.

Then, as if we’d had no conversation,

and bells had not rung in old times, we sat

ourselves apart and never spoke again.

A Kid Out West

While we play from morning until long after supper,

hotter than a million jalapenos, fire

keeps Dad away from home, he’s been gone all summer.

Fans whirl hot breezes, air blows cooler at the malls,

getting soaking wet is what we kids desire,

sick of kicking soccer balls, and those skateboard falls.

No one wants to drive us to a pool or the sea,

so, like Dad, I grab the hose and spray a shower;

we splash ourselves and fling mud to the sky and trees.

Mom sent friends home, ran my bath, rubber ducky floats.

I sink boats, melt soap that smells like Mom and flowers.

Bubbles gargle throat, hope my belly doesn’t bloat.

I’ll be in second grade, when we go back to school;

this year, I’ll do my work, and try not to be bad,

Mom will be glad, and I’ll be proud to see my Dad.

The Vase

Algebra factors bored

friends who preferred baseball

thrown and caught, high and low,

through the heart of the house

that pounded hit and miss.

Venetian hand-blown glass,

glazed warm with memories,

Modigliani necked,

graceful, fragile icon,

broke like a shattered dream.

Dad took Ben’s mitt and ball,

grounded, Ben could not play,

did homework on his own.

What lesson did he learn?

It hurts when your Mom cries.

Easter Over Half a Century Ago


Purple gave way to joyful white,

lilies looked altar perfect,

the choir resurrected hymns.

Facing priest, we followed him,

sat, knelt, stood, prayed together,

kept a Latin-metered rhythm.

 Sermon sent a stern reminder:

 clothes do not define the day,

 nor bunnies, nor jelly beans.

 Communion broke long fasting,

  confessed received wine-dipped Host,

  sinners sat wooden in pews.

 Priest: Dominus vobiscum

 Us:  Et cum spiritu tuo

 Priest: Ite Missa est.

 “Lord be with you,” “And with you,”

  “Go, you are dismissed,” he said.

 We replied: “Deo Gratias.”

“Thanks be to God!”  How very glad,

and new I felt in spring-bright coat,

and cute, flowered-straw bonnet.

Though Simplicity sewed my dress,

I proudly strolled home, patent

leather dangling, t-straps tapping.

Dormant gardens had begun

displaying the work of bulbs,

they bloomed with color, like me.

Mom always went early to Mass,

I knew she’d be cooking dinner,

but I looked forward to chocolate.

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