As children in the mountains
we learned to walk in the dark
on the uneven ground we knew
sometimes shadowed by starlight
or an occasional moon.
It was a wonder watching it rise
behind the far pines
as we lay on our backs
supposing excitedly about something
long since resolved,
but such a luxury to feel the hair
on familiar cedars, puzzle
over the sap of sugar pines,
fish the river for adventure
in the old days.
Time has simplified my map
to safe and basic trails
with many landmarks,
each with a story
to remind me where I am.
I’m below the snowline
biodegradable as hell.
– Red Shuttleworth (“Cafe With Slot Machines”)
When the taxman finds us,
there’s always the argument
over appraisal of this and that
accomplishment, certain failures turned
skyward to face floating white cumulus
with hopes of a more productive afterlife.
The news is too much, poor excuse
for children’s stories peddling common sense.
No Aesop, not even the Brothers Grimm
can keep the future in bread crumbs—
no little red hens to do the dirty work,
no hands-on tools for grindstones.
When he comes, we may be out in the barn
with friends, dusty antiques with loose screws
he may overlook if the dogs don’t
give us away, so far from the house,
trying to freeze time by supposing
we might have made a difference.
When were children, we ran half-naked
through July and August sprinklers
where the tough Bermuda grass
always needed mowing. We spurned
shady places and lay instead with girls
getting baby lotion tans. As my flesh
cooked, I would close my eyes, fireworks
beneath their lids—my imagination ran
to places I knew nothing about—
just disconnected flashes of flames
within the black. No one seemed
to mind the heat in those days.