The blue bookcase sits
in your attic now, dusty,
filled with odds and ends.
Once it overflowed
with toys and books of my youth.
You built it for me,
Father, with a love
that kept my childhood treasures
safe for years, my things
stored, yet easy for
my young hands to grab. Have I,
I wonder, said thanks?
It’s been on my desk since I started this job, the framed
print of that selfie we took in Times Square –
September 2010, our first date – the Golden Arches,
and the red stripes of TGI Fridays behind us,
me in a light-yellow shirt, you in a turquoise scarf and a
necklace you still have. Glasses we’ve both since replaced.
I don’t notice it always, but today I do, recalling
the different time and country in which it was taken.
Then, we did not know our future – my moving, our children,
the unending mettle required of us all – but clearly, we knew
something, my arm around your neck, hand on your shoulder,
my thumb pressing your upper arm, holding on.
Just think that among
the billions of souls
on earth, there really is
only one (often a woman),
born before all of us.
Take, for example,
Emma Martina Luigia Morano of Italy,
dead yesterday at 117,
the last living human born in
She ate 3 eggs a day
and kicked her husband out
Today, Elizabeth Gathoni Koinange,
the only surviving widow
of colonial-era chief Koinange wa Mbiyu
of Kenya, assumes
the role of “World’s Oldest Person.”
She has seen six generations but
can’t recall the last time
she saw a doctor.
R.I.P., Emma (at long last)!
And I raise my coffee cup to you, Elizabeth!
as I read the morning news
and live a while longer.
(Based on a news article in the Daily Nation.)
Start with an abstract idea,
June, 1944 perhaps.
Discuss it a moment, tease it –
in Normandy, the allies prevailed,
yet the war dragged on –
without warning to a wholly different subject,
the night wind blew so hard
it knocked down the mountain shack
that cloudless night the old man died alone.
Write two short lines
of quick, clipped words
then slowly and yawningly stretch the syllables all the way to the rightmost margin of the page.
Write one simple line of Anglo-Saxon prose
And one of meticulous and ornate Latinate verbiage.
bring the poem back to that windy night,
the color of the sky beyond the silhouette of the shack.
Ask a question: Was there a moon?
What, come morning, what was totally, irrevocably changed?
10 minutes after I turn out her bedside lamp
my 3-year-old is still fighting sleep,
fidgeting, asking for water, to use the toilet,
to go say ‘night to mama one last time.
I lie back on the floor and think of Norma Jean,
the 6,500-pound elephant who was the star of the Clark and Walters
circus, struck and killed by lightning in Oquawka,
Illinois in 1972. I went there with my parents once
and saw the tombstone. They buried her where she fell,
right in the town square. My daughter finally starts to snore.
I lie in the darkness a few more minutes, glad of the first
quiet moments of the day. “Bummer,” I think to myself.
The circus went out of business the following year. I get up
from the floor and leave my daughter’s room squinting into the light.
12:30 p.m., the house is silent;
Mist floats across the frozen field, fracturing the light.
The sun a few degrees above the forest, inching higher
drifting south, warming the midwinter afternoon –
Some have gone back to work, some shopping, to visit friends,
Driving the icy highways, hoping to arrive before dark.
Shadows sharp and long on the empty furrowed field –
Soon the sun will be trapped behind the grove of pines
At the property’s edge, casting a chill upon the house.
The mist rolls on, pressed to the earth by an unseen force.
Google Web Alert for David de Young
By David J. de Young with apologies to David S. De Young
“The Physics of Extragalactic Radio Sources
A unique feature of the book is De Young’s emphasis on the physical processes associated with extragalactic radio sources: their evolution, their…”
One fine fall evening, out of the ether it came,
a Google Web Alert for my very own name.
I’m used to these, as I’m an internet famous sort of chap,
but this one seemed to come from a parallel universe’s map.
When in high school, an astrophysicist I said I’d like to be,
But as time wore on I was inclined more poetically.
Not much chance now I’d write The Physics of Extragalactic Radio Sources.
In college I took a completely different set of courses.