Here is the latest installment of Poet’s Corner, presented by the Edmonds-based EPIC Poetry Group
The Bones of David
Two seven-year old boys
destined to be lifelong friends,
I lived as far as he was allowed to travel,
he lived as far as I was allowed to travel.
Driven by circumstances and survival
our family ties were stronger than blood.
Our mothers, inseparable,
Grandparents, fast friends,
each of our homes housed four generations.
David’s backyard had a huge Oak tree
suitable for climbing.
On a scorching summer day
punctuated by blinding sunlight,
I summoned the courage
to climb midway up the tree.
Uttering a primal scream
I decided to jump from a sturdy branch,
my sights set on catching the clothesline’s wooden “T” shaped support pole.
A slight miscalculation caused the soft skin on both arms
to make contact with the pole,
splinters driven deep into the soft exposed flesh.
Momentarily, David refrained from laughing and,
holding his stomach,
he ran to fetch his twenty- year old cousin ( Willamina),
who always had a typical stern look pressed upon her face,
if she attempted to smile,we all thought her face would crack.
Looking at the blood streaming down both arms
she dragged me into the service porch,
grabbing a needle and a bottle of isopropyl alcohol,
she dug seventeen deeply- embedded weathered splinters from my arms,
without hesitation, she poured the alcohol into the open wounds,
the frown on her face told me that there was a lesson
hidden somewhere between the digging and prodding.
Visits at my house were a bit calmer,
less fraught with danger,
We would play in the brooding cage in the rear of our property
pretending it was a rocketship,
ignoring loose feathers and dry pigeon droppings,
we were Junior Space Patrol Cadets,
blasting off to explore the galaxy.
When leaving, I would always walk him to the corner,
watching him walk past the Blacksmith Shop,
the vacant lot (where we had weekly dirt clod wars with rival neighborhoods),
past Mr. Hall’s, then into his yard,
when the front porch light was extinguished, I knew he was safe.
He “always” did the same for me.
In time,urban renewal separated our families forever.
When I was twenty-six years old, married with 3 kids, my mother called.
She told me she had heard that David was found dead in a vacant lot,
“Tall grass and tight lips hid the deed for several months”.
I had often thought of him,
choosing rather to be preoccupied with other things,
I always thought that two old men would be reminiscing,
discussing and laughing about a lifetime of experiences.
Now only one is left to ponder,
the “what ifs”, “the might have beens”, even “the why nots”.
David, when “word” came of your death,
my mind would not allow me to “see”,
to see you lying face down in a vacant lot,
hands tied behind your back,
a single gunshot to the head,
fired at close range.
Didn’t they know for you to get home safely
they should have walked you to the corner,
keeping watch until you walked into your yard,
climbed 5 rickety steps,
and when the porch light was off,
you were home “safe”?
For David’s Bones to lie in a vacant lot
like the one we played in as kids
is “ironic”but as things go,
~ ~ ~ ~
If Only They Would Have Left the Kitchen
The old hometown is not the same,
hammers and bulldozers work at a steady pace,
knocking down long standing structures,
the blueprints of where things used to be,
might have been,or had never been,
rest solely in the memories of Snohomish historians,
steamrollers work tirelessly plying the ground like pie dough,
expertly stretching, folding, flattening,
freshly laid asphalt covers the ground where a pie master
Grandma Fritz, a wise apron clad local master baker,
had been responsible for the enticing aromas and mouth-watering goodness,
wafting from her kitchen for nearly 50 years,
baking pies of all descriptions: some fruit filled others cream filled,
all coddled in a rich flakey, buttery crust with a hint of salt,
“a taste so good, it makes you want to slap your Grandmother”!
homes built to last, like pies,were constructed from a well crafted recipe, one piece at a time,
now days, progress in the guise of the grim reaper, arrives in an Uber, clutching a land use permit, granting permission to level, entire neighborhoods,
marching in, bent on destruction, behaving like an undisciplined regiment of Army Ants,
striking with ferocity, creating chaos akin to a crowd of tourists vying for the last piece of pie at the Snohomish Bakery,
progress, a long road with many foot prints, is inevitable,
unintended consequences stifle traditions,
taking away favorite fare, impacting deeply held memories,
the next time urban renewal, and gentrification are planned,
I will not be pie eyed or searching for pie in the sky,
I will be disappointed and pissed off,
a word to the wise,
next time, leave the kitchen!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Reaching for the Moon
Tonight the moon is in the sky,
hanging like an over ripe apple from a sturdy branch,
tonight I wish I had a ladder,
a ladder tall enough to reach that branch
bring that moonlight a bit closer
to this range weary cow hand
perhaps, just perhaps,
I could wind up and throw my lasso
and get a good hold
stop that moon from settling
behind the painted shadows
of the Santa Ritas
tonight here I lay,
bedded down on open ground,
serenaded by howling winds,
surrounded by mesquites,
looking up at the night sky,
at day’s end,
I know I’ve done my job
confident, that there are no strays,
wandering in and out of the milky way.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Previously published in the Arizona Centennial Anthology and in Between the Lines, Gerald is a board member for EPIC Group Writers and chairs a monthly poetry group. He edited and contributed to Soundings from the Salish Sea (A Pacific Northwest Poetry Anthology).
In 2019, Gerald was selected to read his poetry with the Washington State Poet Laureate. He helped establish a bi-monthly Poet’s Corner featurette in My Edmonds News to showcase the work of local poets. He has a new book of poetry on Amazon entitled, Memories Looking Through a Screen Door.
Among his other credits, Gerald has read his poetry at the 2019, 2021 and 2022 Edmonds Arts Festivals, read and served on a discussion panel at the Edmonds Friends of the Library, participated in poetry readings and a discussion panel at the celebration for the winner of the 2021 Paz Prize for Poetry (Alejandro Perez-Cortez), and acted as manager and featured poetry reader for Epic Group Writers Poets at the 2022 Day of Remembrance for Japanese Americans held at Cascadia Art Museum in Edmonds.