Friday, January 23, 2015


We called it a frog: a knuckle raised above
a tight, thin fist. Rapped quick like a bullet
shot from a weak gun at close range, one hit
on a growing muscle or bone would move
even the meatiest boy to profuse
public tears, embarrassed girls giggling
to hide from the shock of violence swimming,
each stroke paddling one closer to excuse.

I turn my head and it seems the bully
is trying to punch a way out of my neck.
A lump, I sense but cannot feel, saps joy
and marks me, tells my friends and family
today, without reason, I’ll watch my back
and soon the playground will be less one boy.

This poem was originally published in The Resurrectionist

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Max embarrasses his father at the altar

Leaping to the communion rail, the boy
thrusts his hands up and giggles to himself.
Some adults behind us think a sweet elf
has come to lighten the service, his joy
at the alter a quality we all
should aspire to. Some think a noisy sprite
has been set loose in the church to make light
of Christ. They look up from their prayers appalled.

But he’s my son. He’s hardly innocent,
but not possessed. He’s a potential man
bumbling through his journey to the sacred.
He’s a child, and I know he never meant
to humor or entertain. Yet his small hands
hold the Host carelessly as I turn red.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Holding Water

You wonder if the fight is worth
the trouble. And even when you
win, you know as sure as the earth
has cracks, tomorrow is a new
day for old battles. Victory
is a word for kids and old men.
Their stories hurt no history.
You, however, are steeped in sin.

Yet your grandfather has a voice
that wraps its truth in soft fingers.
And your son listens with a heart
that doesn’t think of fear or choice.
You are the vessel that lingers
between old ends and a new start.