Monday, January 31, 2011

To Be a Family

In our mid-twenties,
We had been married a few years
What comes next for fully-fledged adults?
We looked into adoption
(There’s much more to the story here
but we’re moving on)
Maybe it’d be more accurate to say,
Adoption found us

An overwhelming world before us
Of social workers and lawyers,
Phone calls and “visits,”
Paperwork and classes,
Anticipation and confusion,
Prayers and tears,
Choices and acceptance,
Waiting and wondering

Time passed until,
In a stretch of ten months,
We adopted two sons
Spring brought Kyle,
Who would later become
the younger brother of Michael,
the older son who joined our family
the next winter

Our boys are now men
With children of their own
When we reflect over thirty years,
We see a thread of
Grace in the fog
That guarded and guided us
To become a united tribe
And to be a family

this poem is posted as part of the High Calling focus on adoption & foster care this week. check out:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

As a pack

We were like tribal nomads
forgetting what society dictated at school
Giving into instincts and urges,
we reveled in our primal roots

We wandered the streets and woods as a pack
with an unspoken, but agreed upon, leader
Until a mother called us back to civilization,
tempting us with a hot meal or comfortable bed

We’d gather on summer mornings
and set off for Mt. Baldy
This was our name for it
Although it was really a butte

We’d pack pocketknives, BB guns, and matches,
stopping at Kienows to trade empties
for Shasta pop and Hostess pies
(A nickel a can; brand names were ten cents)

We’d walk through the relatively new
suburban homes to the trail
And make our way past shady trees
to the clearing on top

We’d celebrate and reenact the battles
of cowboys and Indians or the “big” war
Imitating what we’d seen on TV,
hurling slurs we’d not admit today

Wounds, imagined and real,
were part of the game
Becoming lore for friends
and our yet unimagined children

Occasionally we’d go over the top
down to a creek on the far side
It was someone’s farm, I realize now,
to catch frogs or salamanders

Some we’d maim or kill in ritual fashion
which I’d watch with a fearful pain
No one noticed I was unable
to participate or protest

The surviving creatures came home,
displayed in jars or tanks on dressers and desks
Unfed and neglected in murky water
they would die with little recognition

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fish in a barrel

Lawyers are easy targets
For ridicule and jokes
(I know, I’ve told them,
And basked in the laughter)

Until you know one
Like my brother-in-law, Bob
The family calls him “a good one.”
A rare commodity to some
And words of reluctant
Acceptance for others
He does not help matters by
Doing that criminal defense stuff
When I read a story or watch the news
Seeing the carnage of another
Mad man (or should I say person)
Then Bob tells me the story
And I’m conflicted, wondering
What is truth and justice?
When humans play god.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

recession redux

this recession’s an enigma
as I sit in a place
that survives,
wait, it thrives
selling little more than
coffee at four or five
bucks a pop

a constant buzz
from the tables
a crowd at the counter
while cars wait
at the window
filled with those
too harried to step inside

I remember history book pictures
and family stories
my great-aunt “Arkie”
wiping her plate clean
reminding me to not waste
“we never know
what will happen next.”

Thursday, January 6, 2011

They’ll Never Ask Me

I’d love the chance, but it will never happen. Probably a good thing. If I was asked, I’d chicken out and rattle on with those overused praises. Spreading sunny futures throughout the room.

But in a daydream, I get to be honest and say what I want. To say something different, maybe make someone think.

I walk to the podium after the inflated introduction, let the applause drift. I clear my throat, hoping to discern the mic level. I say an obligatory thanks and then I let them have it. I tell them what I really think.

Let’s begin by realizing that you are not the greatest generation. Few of you will likely fulfill your hopes and aspirations. The world’s problems and selfish desires will wear you down to lives of blasé survival.

You will not solve all the problems that our generation hands to you. You will vacillate between cluelessness and overwhelming fear.

Remember that you are the generation who follows the societal declaration that everybody needs a degree. So we made it easy, dumbing down the curriculum until you can’t tell the athletes from the academics.

I pause for a breath and look into the audience. Instead of crying mothers and bored fathers, I notice murmuring. Whispers that lead to stirring. Administrators confer in the back and finally some brave soul shouts my damnation. Demanding that “someone” stop this.

How quickly I go from celebrity to target, the problem.

Before I can resume my address, the president places a hand on my shoulder, pulling me back, and leans into the mic.

“Thank you, sir, for those challenging and inspiring words. I am certain your hope was to join us in honoring this class and supporting our school. We will now move forward to the ceremony of conferring the degrees for this class.”

And once the problem has been identified and blame assigned, a sense of calm is interpreted as resolution. The ceremony, and all of life, returns to status quo, thank God.

Of course, take care and do not invoke that deity’s name at an official gathering in a public institution.