Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Panning for Staurolites

We hunted for Fairy rocks on the Mississippi river bank
today. Water over Blanchard Dam crashed upriver,
cicadas droned in their torpor of late day heat.
My cheeks rosied-up without my straw hat,
and despite our modest success, my son
sat on a jutting rock, marked by indifference.

When a boy nears his 15th year, indifference
might as well be capitalized. His father, but a bank
and chauffeur, his mother, even less, a son’s
embarrassment. But we paddle forth on this adolescent river
of hormones and hope for the best. Hang on to your hat,
chuckles Grandpa, that boy’s burning heat.

When Grandpa was 15, WWII heated
the air. His parents doffed their different-
sounding German accents, wore their hats
low. At night, Mutti would pull shades, bank
the fire, make the sign of the cross while the river
took her eldest son away to the coast. Her son

vowed to aim low in case the enemy was the son
of her sister still in Berlin. Then lightning heats
the air and Grandpa sighs remembering the river
that took his brother away returned an indifferent
shell of a man who could only put money in the bank,
no treasure in his heart, who kept his hat

on his head when Old Glory waved. His hat
on his head, whispered Mutti, tears for her lost son
who came home from Paris like a 1930’s banker’s
book, closed and beaten, an indifferent
man. Yellow chin of a Blanding’s turtle flashes in the river

next to the rock where my son sits, Upriver,
a cacophony of gulls call; one swoops the hat
off an old man’s head. Hey, he cries, but it is indifferent
to our protestations, all a superfluous chatter, assonance
without meaning. Our feet blue, we seek the heat
of our dry socks and shoes lying on the bank.

Pascal insisted that a river made no difference
On either side of the bank, a man still wears a hat
And a son still grows up to pack heat in wartime

Friday, July 25, 2014


Warm milk might soothe unless it’s sour
Likewise hands and fingers know
The tempestuous ridge of your brow
Icy palms induce your stern glower

This eggshell floor that on knees I scour
With dainty brush to elicit glow
To your ego, I daily kowtow
Genuflect to your stony tower

But what if I saw my reflection
Exclaimed in an unconscious voice
Who’s that sniveling pathetic creature
Without a map and no direction?
Would I recognize my choice
Could I be my own good teacher?