23 Ute

Spinning back down the years; almost as if it were somebody else…

cross the road gladiolas grew
a sizable patch
every imagined color
even peach

hid behind them more than once
in a tight spot while playing army
and I homered once gloriously
singing a victory limerick
while rounding the bases
dad painted out front
I guess he saw me one morning
had to be when I was 6
taught myself to bat the ball
back & forth free for hours
first up the street
then down
swinging mightily till connecting
chasing the result solo
in the perfect smiling sun
little bobby had speed
but not so much power
tinker couldn’t catch worth a damn
and johnny and jimmy struggled at first
but showed up every day
lugging mitts, persisting
DeMaio’s complained
for stray balls on their lawn
but we knew
how to quickly retrieve them
a row of crabapple trees
shielding us from their curtains
till the last second’s dash
no man’s land out in right field
patty watched us sometimes
and she wrestled me once
in slow motion
a private location
on her cool shaded lawn
but we were young
and I sexless
and knew nothing
and liked it
blue jays would signal
one to another
in hauntingly pretty calls
and I paid them my ears
no matter what
memorizing the way they cocked heads
as though astonished
by the very nature
they festooned in blue blurs
and how perfect the day
one paradise within hundreds
when new sneakers conferred a next gear
speeding along twisted routes
made of bushes and rock walls
and narrow passageways
a travel map imagined
a boyish sense of direction
marky’s mother gave him cherries
one day for a snack
how we thought them superior to oreos
and david’s mother
made us lemonade once
using peculiar green limes
I marveled at the cuisine change
supposing it explained
by his residing
on rarely visited
distant Manito Ave
of summers we knew plaintive songs
from vying ice cream trucks
15 cents for soft cones
and 25 for orange floats
I can almost still see
the melancholy driver’s face
inside the lids of my eye
after supper we were back at it
careening in squadrons
ruling the blocks with our bikes
patrolling or enjoying
our unquestioned territory
fourths of Julys
we could all stay out late
Mr. Carson would BBQ corncobs
one hand for hamburgers
consumed under backyard fireworks
while the other
was for catching
lightning bugs

but hidden in plain view
amidst all this fine society
I had also my secret childhood
where my truths became believed
in quiet delicious places
that only I knew
watching a river pass
unseen almost an hour
or being privy to one hundred grackles
consuming a meadow
raucous cacophony become silent
their lunchtime congress
only for me

and I shant recall now
my misdeeds or witless minutes
even as I’ve long lost hold of
a special sunset
or light rays glinting
on a puddle just so
or the impossibly
smile of some friend
I can see all these and more
in the gazing of my son
how he imbibes his world with gusto
how his joys and tears
are boundless
oh I long to transmit something
but I cannot make the language
testimony for a father
suddenly concerned I might be clueless
in the face
of a tragic miracle
and we:
confined to sweet earth
for the sake of cosmic freedom
in a school
we can barely begin
to fathom


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  1. Beautiful. If anything this poem is a bridge, an ethereal yet steady bridge between the old and the young. I love how you are able to wear the lenses of childhood, opening up this infinite space of wonders.


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