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Category: NaPoWriMo2021

POEM: grandpa’s hands

grandpa’s hands

I have your feathery hair
“grandpa’s hands,” I thought, looking at mine
but we’re not related, are we?
that was one hell of a secret to take to the grave
we told you we were naming our first son after you
you said, “Don’t saddle him with that name”
I assumed you meant it was outdated
now I wonder
it doesn’t change the time we had together
or how much I miss you
but others had already chopped down
most of my family tree
now the little that was left
is engulfed by fog

/ / /

30 April 2021
Farmington NY
for Bernie Flanders

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POEM: this is how it is, like

this is how it is, like

a guy I don’t know said I should listen
to three other guys I don’t know
(all of them Welsh)
talk about sports I don’t follow
& old shows I haven’t seen

OK, I said, I’ll do it
& thus begins a tale
of 16,000 miles in a minivan
listening to three Welsh guys
& falling rapidly in love

with your piggles, your talc
your rugby & beans (cough)
with Camarthen & Llanelli
& James & Bubbins & Garrero
& the mystery guitarist

living in a van has its ups & downs
five months behind me
with many more to come
but once a week on Tuesday
I’m guaranteed a laugh

/ / /

29 April 2021
State College PA
for yer men at the Socially Distant Sports Bar

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POEM: capo and the tide

what a difference a letter makes
I thought your Instagram name
had “tilde” at the end
there’s no tilde in your name
no Spanish or Portuguese in your posts
which seem to mostly have flowers
& hammocks & guitars & sideways mountains
then I realized the word was “tide”
so many possibilities!
it can be high or rising or turning
all our boats can lift
or we can be overwhelmed by it or
maybe you just live near the ocean

/ / /

28 April 2021
State College PA
for Katie Manz

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POEM: looking for

looking for

you had what I thought was my dream job
there across from my grandparents’ place
surrounded by books
you headed west & I headed east
you to the Rockies
me, briefly, to the Berkshires
both singing our mad songs
as we roam the landscape
looking for…

/ / /

27 April 2021
State College PA
for Michael Schiavo

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POEM: wild


you say “we” as if we’re there with you
over low hills or along steep gorges
but really you’re there alone
striking out into the wild world outside
& the wilder one in
you’ve proven you can climb a mountain
or slip through one of those weird British gates
the true feat is to step inside the darkness
& emerge through the tears that fall
more powerfully than any Alpine chute
no pair of boots is sturdy enough for that journey
& yet you make it repeatedly for our sake and yours
we follow your hat & the sound of your walking stick
& emerge into the dawn of our own adventures

/ / /

25 April 2021
State College PA
for Abbie Barnes

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POEM: 42

thanks for not suing me
for stealing most of my personality
from your writing
I was young & impressionable &
I already liked radio comedy
so you can see how I might decide
that a bathrobe & a fish were good ideas

/ / /

24 April 2021
Musser Gap Trailhead
for Douglas Adams

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POEM: star stuff

star stuff

I honestly don’t know how you did it
not the sitting under the tree bit
that I can more or less understand
it was all the stuff before that
leaving home behind
starving yourself
attacking your own body
all for a chance at true vision
who does that?
at that point the tree must have
seemed like a relief
even though you were starving
a little shade
maybe some support for your back
and then the gift of rice from the young woman
I think I’ve got that part right
by the time the dawn star rose
feeling one with everything
was a natural result
“I’ve reduced myself
to the barest essentials,
to the star stuff of which
we’re all composed”
I made up that quote but still

/ / /

23 April 2021
State College PA
for Siddartha Gautama
the Buddha

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POEM: he lives in a van

he lives in a van

no one thrives in a factory
we need sun on our faces
& snow underfoot

a hundred miles
with the crockpot on low
& some beer in the fridge

up the mountain
write your name
down the mountain, cook

the drone circles the summit
captures his tiny image there
one arm raised, smiling

/ / /

Earth Day 2021
State College PA
for fellow van dweller
Foresty Forest

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POEM: like father, like son

like father, like son

you’re into drifting and so am I
though I mean it like Kung Fu
& you mean it like Tokyo Drift

you’ve got my sense of humor &
probably too much of my personality
for your own good

you’re braver than I’ve ever been
& fearless in just the right way
willing to put your whole body

into whatever you’re pursuing
where I was always more
of an indoor kid

most importantly to me:
the same things make you angry
that make me angry

meaning you stand up for others
whether you know them or not
& that’s all I could ever ask for

/ / /

21 April 2021
State College PA
for John Crane

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POEM: all the world

all the world

Sunday nights at seven
(just like Jack Benny)
we gather around our screens
to eat, drink, and be varied
characters from Will’s plays
putting on a voice here or a
pirate hat there
making each other laugh in the chat
it’s a tradition as old as speech itself
telling stories to one another
to push back the darkness
sometimes there’s cake
sometimes there’s mead
always there’s joy & love & attention
we all just want to be seen
each on our own little stage

/ / /

20 April 2021
State College PA
for the Beers & Bard crew

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POEM: to the sky!

to the sky!

well good
pure dreams

always ready
for a shreddy

on that bombshell
of poetic excitement

see you in the next one
to the sky!

/ / /

19 April 2021
State College PA
for Sam Pilgrim

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POEM: for Kodo Sawaki

for Kodo Sawaki

we never met
we couldn’t have
we’d have disagreed about the war
but agreed about most other things
to be fair, even with a time machine
my Japanese these days
is at an elementary school level
you would have to dumb things down
but I’d enjoy having tea
just sitting there
maybe with a ballgame on
not giving in to group stupidity
until our team scores

/ / /

18 April 2021
State College PA

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POEM: proofreading poem

proofreading poem


/ / /

17 April 2021
State College PA

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POEM: orbits


each one drifts apart
falls into a new orbit

basement investigations
over veggie sushi & tea

milestones celebrated
lasting & otherwise

fires lit in circles
burning across the page

elliptical but intersecting
on late-night bridges

off on a lark
in front of the crowd

looking through telescopes
wondering what we are

cloud-obscured stars
outside the bar

/ / /

17 April 2021
State College PA
for Carolee Bennett

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