Always the frivolous question
grown-ups asked—taken seriously
when I was seven, 1955.

                                                                        Remember the Flood?

I had no talent, and everything
interested me, especially women:
curious, untouchable vessels
I thought held the answers—
but none under Susan Cline’s
petticoats on the playground.

After the War to end all wars,
they expected GREAT things:
doctor, lawyer, butcher, baker—
someone solid and dependable
from thick Germans and Scots.

                                                                        Granddad on a ladder
                                                                        pruning a peach tree.

It was a man’s world, heroic
and demanding. Only a few
wandered off, and some
never came back from the 60s,
or Viet Nam, for the double-talk.

                                                                        In the middle of a circle,
                                                                        draft cards and bras in flames.



What vocation, what purpose now?
I look under rocks and leaves nearby
just to enlist a commotion of bugs
and insects, disturbing their equilibrium
as if I were a perfect storm, a force
to address beyond their knowing.

Then to the river from the mountains,
then to the ever-changing sky for reason
in the cycles that touch everything—

                                                                        Lew Welch: teach
                                                                        your children…
                                                                        it’s all forgot.



I left school to work here
on a temporary basis, my
ever-ready exit for a lifetime
of cowboy turned cowman,
of lover turned husband,
of father with little left to say
for sure, except:

                                                                        nothing stays the same—

enjoy the change
of season, see opportunity
for your good nature
and leave no tracks,

                                                                        chew your food

and find satisfaction
with what your hands can do—
even a woodpecker
knows his purpose.

One response to “WHAT TO BE WHEN I GREW UP

  1. Enjoyed this poem.


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