Why I Am Smiling Today

There used to be an ad in TV Guide.

If you could draw the lumberjack –

the head of the lumberjack, with his

beard and cap and flannel shirt –

you might have talent, and maybe

you were just the one they were looking for.

Today I saw that fellow, in our park,

here in the neighborhood.

He’d shaved the beard and changed his shirt,

but the cap was the same.

And then two boys came along,

who might’ve been me, if I’d been

two people when I wanted to draw him.

Isn’t it wondrous, how things come around

to resurrect the past,

and someone still might

answer the call?

The Blueprint

I’ve been thinking about what you said about dwelling on things. Tell me about it! Lately I keep coming back to a memory that has plagued me since I was fifteen. That summer I worked for the Youth Conservation Corps, at Fort Columbia State Park. It was a great job – being outdoors, fixing trail, with kids my age and older. But there was a younger kid who annoyed me. He didn’t work with us. His dad was the park ranger. He was nice enough, I can’t remember him actually ever doing anything “wrong.” I guess he just cramped my style. And so I shared that thought, one night in one of the army tents. “He’s always around. It bugs me.” Which brought, from behind me in the dark, words that have echoed in me ever since. “I’m sorry. I won’t do that anymore.” He kept his word. He never came around again. Nor did I seek him out. Life sets traps and I jump right in. I get after myself and then I get after God. What a mess, what a godawful blueprint!

What I thought about today

Seeing my black boots, I thought

of how Dad put them outside

that Christmas we visited –

when his mind was going

and he draped a shroud

over my head – and my boots

were cold when I retrieved them.

And about how my uncle Mike

at a family reunion

put his arm in the photo

around the one who was missing

and said the next time might be

the last time

and it was.

And about how we’ll stand outside in a minute

watching a hearse go by,

and it will carry no one I’ve mentioned

thus far.