Kids, ’70s and ’80s

actual children
in all the usual ways

clearer than any judgments

a table filled with wondering
what on Earth will happen next

Today’s Poem a Day Chapbook Challenge prompt was form or anti-form. I wrote an erasure poem, using a Chicago Tribune review of a production of “Oliver!” as my source material.


Prime Meridian

What color is England today?
Purple, maybe, or beige—
not green, necessarily:
The imaginary line passes through
Gren-itch, not Green-witch.

If we pull down the United States map,
I can see the route we took to get here,
a slice across the top. What I remember
is the Rainier Beer commercial,
replaying it over and over in my head

in a motel room somewhere, making myself
sad and eerie over the slim chance
that I would ever hear it again:

Raaaaaaaaainieeeeeeerrrrr Beeeeeeeerrrrr

as a man on a motorcycle approached
the mountain we used to own.

I thought I wanted to tell you about
the hundreds of monarchs, squashed
on the grille of our Chevy Caprice Classic.
But they were not important yet;

I still wore the heartlessness of a child,
a metal exoskeleton around me as we
crossed a line we would never cross again,
not in the same way. Never going home.

Today’s Poem a Day Chapbook Challenge prompt was “prime.”


Edge of Night

But all I ever saw of that one was the commercial—
my mother’s only soap opera was All My Children,
every day at 1:00. Noon, when we lived in Minnesota,
which is where I first began to follow it, when poor
Nina was in the bank vault without her insulin,
held hostage during a robbery, and Erica was having
another round of marital problems, this time with Tom,
who (it seemed) only ever wanted to have a baby,
whether with this wife or the next. Did he have a baby
with Brooke, Erica’s do-gooder nemesis? (I forget, and
anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.) At the time when
I picked up the thread of the story, Erica was with Tom,
though my mother told me that would not last, and
she was right. There were two things my mother told me
not to tell my grandmother: that she smoked, and that
she watched a soap opera (even just one), though
my grandmother smoked like a chimney and, no fan
of soap operas herself, surely would have understood
the value of another daytime vice, a well-timed
respite, right at the edge of 1:00. Or noon.

Today’s Poem a Day Chapbook Challenge prompt was “______ of ______.”


At Six and Forty-Six

I almost thought I could catch them,
the bubbles chasing around and around
on the walls as the pipe organ played
and the fake Muppets did whatever they did.
No bubbles at all, just reflections from tiny mirrors
on the outside of a ball that hung from the ceiling
of Pizza & Pipes in Bellevue, Washington,
like an indoor sun. I saw that same magic trick
last night at Sleeping Village in Chicago,
and here’s the thing: It still worked.



Today’s Poem a Day Chapbook Challenge prompt was “reflection.”


A Flash of a Dog

Standing in a cul de sac
eating saltines
while someone else’s dachshund
jumps and snaps for them
and the kid who owns the dachshund
tells me not to worry, but I do.

A flash of a dog,

though my brother might know it—
he was older every time we lived somewhere,
every time we moved away.

Today’s Poem a Day Chapbook Challenge prompt was to write a pet poem.



Or let’s go ahead and call them
for extra cringe
They were cotton, I’m sure

maybe even Carter’s brand
If they could just stay little ’til their Carter’s wear out
No defense against an old man’s hand

I almost told my mother
(how many years later? maybe three)
right before we moved away

The old man and his old wife
she knew she knew she knew
were coming to visit us, to say goodbye

I stood in our downstairs bathroom
but then they were at the front door
and by then, it was long since over
I had already aged out, was no longer


Today’s Poem a Day Chapbook Challenge prompt was to choose an article of clothing and make it the title.



King Tut Lived in Our Laundry Chute

King Tut lived in our laundry chute
the dark wooden door
the airy metal-walled chamber
that led to the beyond
or nothing.

Can it be that I once went down it,
landing in a plastic basket
of sheets and towels, not caring
if they were dirty or clean,

only that they softened my landing?
We must have been alone in the house,
if that happened. I do know, I do recall

many nights, walking a wide path
to avoid that door
as my brother whispered, King Tut

Today’s Poem a Day Chapbook Challenge prompt was “opening.”