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the greatest show on earth

yesterday, I had the good fortune to be reminded of something so sweet
it permitted me almost complete peace with the world
and entire happiness with planet people
as I watched with anxious mom eyes, young men and a few women too–
my son among this intense leaping group
willingly get tossed about sprawling mats and body slammed through practiced experience
I escaped a few moments for coffee

there in a deep fluorescent hallway
away from the hearty stewing odors of an enclosed winter gym
a little blonde tyke, resplendent in cherubic pink cheeks and wild child whimsy
his laughter and stubby legged runs–
the penguin-like waddles of a boy not yet near man territory
tearing up and down the checkered oatmeal tile, he flew on socked wings
I, trying to stifle a grin
(honestly, more for the creases now carving into my retreating lip flesh)
simply could not stop smiling, beaming in fact at this whirling dervish
and then he, who lost a fierce hallway sprint to a taller little girl, in their run for the shoeless roses
proclaimed to any and all observers (a line I wish I could take credit for)
“she made her socks run faster than mine”

in this morning’s paper
an article printed on the closing (after 146 years) of, “The Greatest Show on Earth”
this media headline is incorrect, perhaps even yellow in its presentation
yesterday I watched The Greatest Show on Earth in a small high school hallway
and here–the most entertaining truth
the little socked boy’s name was
Gabriel
elephant eye:trunkand for the record, I am joyous for the animals, large and small who should never dwell beneath any big top other than sky

 

 

 

 

’tis wrestling season, my eyes close for 2 months


I listened last night
cresting waves
you
a ship
the gymnasium floor
covered in ocean blue and harvesting gold
home advantage
there you were
every time I closed my eyes
imagining the sea
rather than watching you twist and be twisted

my heart opened them
I must be like you
brave
put myself out there
on the mat
face my fear, my folly, my foe, my friend
when did you become so you

my son

the little boy
I must one day
release into a hard world
with no soft wrestling mat beneath
should you fall
maxmy max is on the right, gold-stripe
so very difficult watching these wrestling matches
hoping none of these kids get hurt
but they do
must keep my eyes open

uptitty bookreader

damn horse, had a sure thing
jack jockey was horse-size himself
I’ll win the lottery soon, maybe next week
when they get my damn numbers right
freakin’ lotto balls
my carpet sweeper got more suction
than that damn blowin’ machine
I’m gonna win the 5G shoppin’ spree
just gotta do the survey
when my damn computer feels like workin’
screw the dude who said I gotta beige dinosaur
my machine ain’t no albatross
though them nasty black birds siphoned all my grass seed
shit birds
too bad my cat took off
offended for bein’ named Snowball
it thought it was all hot
like that chick
thought she was better than the Yankees
I set her straight
couldn’t order a good hot dog worth a damn anyway
who buys peanuts
that’s what’s left in my kitchen
peanuts, butter and some crackers
freakin’ saltines, what the hell
salt
may as well eat sand
like the line she said I crossed
or the sand I shifted can’t remember what the hell she said
she said bookies are real bad
told her only if ya lose
and my ships are comin’ in
she said traitor winds blow hard
said my feet only shuffled in circles
I shuffled the sand when I shifted the line
she screamed my primo leakin’ shower head
mixed all the crap up
like the cement shoes I’ll soon be wearin’
all I know is – those curvy pants of hers closed when those damn books opened
uptitty bookreader anyway
don’t know what the hell she was ever talkin’ about
I only wear Gucci slides
upitty girl

escaping

the young athlete in purple and gold was trying to escape
his muscles maxing out in length beneath his sweating skin
each time crawling on knees and palms to reach the outer ring
to safety
every wrestler knows when you reach that white circle, the whistle blows
out of bounds
you get another chance
he was fierce
yes he was
in his determination

the other wrestler wearing the baby-blue and white singlet
continued lunging at his fleeing opponent
baby-blue and white wanted the win badly
purple and gold was trying with all his power to escape

on the other side of the large wrestling mat,
a bulbous-bellied man in a bright yellow shirt
was positioned like the sun
he stood there eclipsing all else around him with
his giant flashing camera and smashing fists
he was a bright star
without the warmth
but with all the heat
loads of hot air bursting out
through a constant barrage of bellows
screaming at the young wrestler–his son
“YOU HAVE TO DO BETTER THAN THAT”
“GOTTA PULL YOUR LEG ‘ROUND FASTER”
“QUIT RUNNING FOR THE RING”
“YOU’RE NOT TRYING”

and secretly, the young wrestler in the purple and gold and I both knew
he was trying
trying very hard
to escape
to reach that white circle
and never stop running
Love Tackleart previously published
unfortunately, this is a true story, colors of singlets were changed to protect the innocent:)

winning and losing

there was a dual wrestling meet last night
all these boys, young men really
hoping their practiced discipline and best efforts
would place them on this side of glory
a raised arm at third period’s end
a personal win
points for their team

quick food, hot coffee and school spirit
we bought an event tee for the big son
I didn’t look at the shirt ’til later
against the black cotton weave
was the image of a handsome, young man
135 pounds
his chiseled arm raised in victory

it was then I realized
the tournament was named after this wrestler
he’d died in a car accident two years ago

and I knew
whether the big son
won or lost
we’d been winning all along

at this time of year
when the magnifying glass
boxes in our hearts
may thoughts of warmth
go out to those
whose children are no longer here
but live on in their souls

Baby Elf

Baby Elf

illustration previously published

“ball is life”

our children start moving away
our parents begin moving closer
the circle of life is a shape
that falls flat on its side
with no dimension
just one 360
and your time is over

I prefer a sphere
the sphere of living
the globe of going
the ball of bounty
you may go ’round
and around again
so let that dazzling ball drop
and roll into
a blessed and hopeful future

maybe sport advertisers
do know best
“ball is life”

Little Tree

Little Tree

art published last Christmas season

Our Mighty Tree (Flash Fiction 3)

Did you know two Revolutionary giants used to hang out in our park. Washington and Lafayette met right under our tree. A tarnished plaque dated 1777 said so. Did you also know our strategizing was a lot more important than powdered-wig war secrets. We discussed baseball strategies nine ways ‘til Sunday. But whispering strategies didn’t always help our game, especially on sweltering summer days. Sometimes a slippery baseball hit the cement block backstop so hard, it became tattooed with the year 1777. When the baseball acted rubbery, those old war farts heckled us. Luckily for them, we weren’t ever interested in their lame commentary. We were only interested in playing ball in the park built for our tree–the grand oak still generously sheltering those old geezers’ ghosts.

The mighty tree was giant–a real giant. He was way taller than Washington and Lafayette standing on a whole pile of Yankees. Ten of us could just about clasp our hands together around his mammoth trunk. I was certain if our great oak had been given a mitt and some legs he would’ve made a damn fine ballplayer. Joe DiMaggio didn’t have a special park built around him with a cement block that stopped rubbery balls.

In the summer of 1971 there romped a wicked storm. The thunder was louder than a pissed off volcano. Lightning lit the sky so bright you could see bolt shadows up there. The firing white jagged bullets shot several of the great oak’s knobby arms clean off. The colossal branches covered some of the baseball field but we didn’t notice. The big limbs didn’t stay on the ground too long. Thick men in green pants came to haul them away. The workers matched the trees so we knew they were on the level. They looked how men should look who had to haul away nature. The smallest of them said our friend was a white oak. He said the white oak was mighty like him then he flexed his Popeye arm. Sally N giggled while asking if he’d swallowed a kickball. Kickball Arm said our mighty oak was over two hundred years old and that nature had a way of talking herself into new beginnings. I wanted to run home and write down what he’d said. I knew I’d forget and I did until just now. We looked at our friend’s powerful arms on the charred ground. Then the gas-powered saws came out–chained machines with voices like traffic accidents. If our tree had been Joe DiMaggio, they would have left his arms alone even if they weren’t attached.

The late summer crickets were chirping in waning conversations. Vacation was over like playing summer ball for us. There was a new grade to battle. Another badge to add to the dreadful learning sash. I always had trouble falling asleep on these nights. Though my head was heavy this night, my eyes fought gravity. From my bedroom window, I watched leafy silhouettes whooshing back and forth. Another storm–looked bad. I wished all neighborhood trees safe under my Spiderman comforter. Watching the angsty black sky light up angry white, I wasn’t thinking about stuffing my navy knees socks under a desk anymore. If this was nature talking, she was doing it really loud like my Aunt Betty who was mostly deaf.

The next morning, the lazy sun managed waking for school like we had to. Getting to the bus stop on time required a breakfast shovel and a front door sprint. I’d get whooped if I missed the bus. My mom liked hitting butts with slippers. So I shoveled and ran out the door while throwing my mom air kisses. At the end of the street, on the next block was our park. Our mighty oak was standing there sure as sunlight. I laughed when I saw his baseball cap made of clouds. I knew I shouldn’t, but I took my lucky baseball out from my backpack’s secret zipper compartment. “Don’t be late for school!” My mom’s voice yelled from my Batman pencil case. I took a few steps into the park. Who was I to say no to a mighty oak. Wanting to impress him, I threw that ball as hard as I’ve ever thrown anything in my life. Harder than the spoon, I threw at my sister’s head when she stole my animal crackers. Wouldn’t you know that giant white oak jumped sky high into the blue air. His roots were covered in one-thousand baseball cleats. I didn’t count them this was a guess. As he caught the baseball, he laughed louder than the whole Yankee team–a great booming laugh. He threw the ball back. Don’t be late for school!

The smell of a new school day ran across my bedroom windowsill. I reached my hand up and felt the damp glass. It was the first day of fifth grade. My mom was standing over my bed like our mighty oak’s baby sister. She said I was lucky to have slept through the night. The last storm of summer had been a nasty one. Down the road, a pine tree crashed through Mr. Laddy’s roof. I rushed my morning ablutions then scooted. “Don’t be late!” my mom yelled, as the storm door slammed shut behind me. I ran around the block.

Steven S, Joe M, and Sally N were standing by the park fence. There was miles of yellow tape and four green trucks. These trucks were much bigger than the one a few weeks ago. I thought the green men had returned as trucks. I wasn’t going to cry like a girl. Not in front of my teammates. Looking beyond where our mighty friend once stood tall and proud, there were no clouds shaped like baseball caps. I wondered if this was what Kickball Arm had meant about nature talking herself into new beginnings. Maybe nature thought our mighty old tree was too tired to stand up anymore.

Those four trucks had metal toothed maws that were opening wide for breakfast. One heaving boom was followed by another as their jaws began moving. I hoped somewhere in those deep death reverberations, Washington and Lafayette were giving our fallen friend a proper twenty-one gun salute on his way to tree heaven. I honored the mighty oak too in military-style, like the soldiers did in the old war movies my dad and I used to watch before he fell off our family tree. I pretended the sun was stabbing my eyes when Steven S asked if I was crying.

The rumble of bus #23’s engine was softer than an autumn leaf sailing on the breeze as it drove passed our empty bus stop. Come to think of it, I did see a cloud shaped like a baseball.

Tree Talk

Tree Talk

Image previously published.

If you actually read this whole piece, I appreciate your time. Thank you. I did have a great old tree in the park down the road from my house. We did play baseball there, kickball too. Washington and Lafayette did meet there and they did heckle us 😉

Birthdays and Band-Aids

We cannot protect our children anymore than we can make ourselves less vulnerable to life. The best we can do is arm them with self-confidence so when their young, conflicted minds step into those ‘precarious’ fields the mantra, “I’m better than this…,” whispers like a gentle school bell, muffled beneath piles of internal clothing.
maxThe big son is still young. He turns fifteen this week. Like many others of his ilk, he enjoys sports. ‘We’ made it through another wrestling season uninjured and now it’s on to football. The big son is a gentle soul by nature–a pacifist at heart. I know it’s impossible to ask for such a divine favor as to keep one’s child completely safe while playing competitive sports, so I’ll just ask that he has fun and only requires a Band-Aid from time to time. And of course, I also ask that every child participating in sports this year remains safe. I know it is a tall order and a selfish prayer.

Last year the big son said to me, “I’ll feel bad if I hurt anyone, mom.”

I responded quite motherly, “Then tackle your opponents with love, son.”

I glanced up at the sky and prayed, “And God, I hope my son is tackled with love too.”
Love TackleLove Tackle, created last year with Prisma pencil.
Partial post previously published around this time last year.

Happy Birthday, Max!

this time of year

may I call you out
it’s time
the nights are growing colder
the mornings chilly
leaves are weary and falling
the trees want to sleep
their shadows have cooled
and something is pressing in the wind
like a secret around the corner
this time of year
the minute hand seems to
overpower the hour
transitions
stepping through that next door
another calendar to markup with activity
summer is worn out
it’s time
for the harvest to begin
though
every time you change
I wish they could stay the same
and play with dolls just a little longer
Gallean with ragdoll
Galeen on a ‘shroom painted on paper a few weeks back