Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Poems for Derek Michael July 9, 1997-

Batteries Not Included

Christmas is such a joke every year: approaching middle-age you'd think that I would read the text of the package before purchasing something and include the correct size batteries for each present. At day break, I rush to get dressed, brush my teeth, put on a baseball cap to hide my bed-hair, hop in my pickup and rush to the local WaWa with a list of all the battery sizes that I need, before our child's face grows long with disappointment.

dim light ...
in her night-stand drawer
a cold vibrator

Dinosaur and Dragon Bones

This weekend is going to be different; my four year old will head the expedition in a quest for dinosaur and dragon bones. Our bellies are full; we're well clothed so we won't be hunting butterflies and birds. We empty the backpack full of cap guns and water pistols, and replace them with small picks, trowel, sifter, basting brush and any useful kitchen utensil we can find.

Just as we break camp, I spot a scarlet tanager and Derek said it was a parrot. We continue down the path until we reach the verge overlooking a deep pit. As we follow the grade adjusting to the terrain, rocks start to slide, unearthing a flat piece of yellow quartz, triangle shaped, with one side notched inward-out, like a canine. Derek convinced me it belongs to a T. rex. The sun is high; sweat stunk-down the hair covering our napes and sideburns, collecting in the blue and white bandannas tied loosely around our necks.

On the way to the ancient forest, we found pitch pine and sassafras saplings. Dug them up. Replanting them, well spaced—for proper growth.

*bedtime story
the child never
stops talking


the gleam
in a child's eyes—
starlings shift direction

first light
I pretend to shave
my son’s lathered face

morning dew
I trace my son's


home from work
he asks me: did you
have a drink today?
two arms tighten
around my waist

Contemporary haibun On-line vol.1:3 December 2005, Lynx vol. 23:2 June 2008,
Hermitage 1:1, 2004, The Heron's Nest vol. 5:5 2003, The Heron's Nest vol. 7:1 2005
Hermitage 3, 2006

Note: *the haiku was originally published as:

bedtime story
the child never
stops stalking

Which was a typo on my part within the submission.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Poems for Jacob Ryan

-Jacob Ryan Murtha, stillborn, Memorial Day weekend, May 26, 1996

Miller's Pond

Jacob avoided everything from the start:

All the easy stuff I could have shawn him
from the saw-tooth edge of an alder leaf
.....to casting a lazy fly rod at Miller's.

I never wanted him...perhaps he knew.
Never could see myself as a parent,
.....or felt the need to be a letdown.

While Linda carried him, I was happy for them.
Watching her third finger trace his body
.....squirming in her belly.

After I delivered him, I held him just so
brushing back brown hair from his cold,
limp-still body, and sketched those features
.....that were mine.

When in thought, I find myself on a bank
at Miller's Pond, where mallards dabble,
a hooded merganser dives
.....and not until it surfaces

..........do I breath.

Jacob's Song a lullaby

life's full of joy
baby boy it would be
the nursery was made
by my wife and me

the toys and the cloths
tucked away in his room
baby would play
while in his mother's womb

the day would come
he'd play no more
tears showered our eyes
cascading to the floor

an angel emerged
from this tragedy
I'm sure Jacob watches over
my wife and me


caught in a dewdrop—
the empty swing

spring mist—
a mallard paddles
through our stillborn's ashes

Memorial Day—
a layer of dust
cover's the urn

spring rain
a child's ashes
mix with clay

tanka series untitled

his brass urn
I walk to
the bedroom's far wall
and straighten our photo

dreams of
how I never wanted you
your ashes
sift through my fingers
so many tiny bones

I look
to the constellation
count each star
one by one
then, name you

© 1996-2008 Memorial Day, Golden Swamp Warbler Press, The Heron's Nest, The
Valentine Award Issue of THN, Temps Libre, Mad Poet's Review & Hermitage