After dropping out of school in the 1920s

After dropping out of school in the 1920s, Cecil Smith, 94, of Westlake Village becomes the oldest known recipient of the GED. [An essay question was] what have you learned since leaving school?

                        – from a 2002 article by Steve Chawkins, LA Times

You learn to answer questions with more questions,
because you honestly don’t know.
You go to school while young,
but all you learn then
is how answers will fit on a page.

Continue reading “After dropping out of school in the 1920s”

The Same Earth

My sons march on the same earth
I practiced on a different century ago
but that was before I tried writing a novel
getting married, watching
Remains of the Day.

I can’t recognize the place
because the new band room
and a fence has been added on
and so much grass has grown
since then.


This is my father’s world.
Jesus freaks on the road
to the county fair.
Only a dim recollection
of them in a median
as we hurry by.

My parents younger
than I am now.
They’re too old to understand hippies.
I’m too young.

Polyester suits at the hymn-singing
counter-protest to modernity
or at least whatever version
that hates the war and big band music.

Online and Off

for W.R.

I keep finding you as a friend of friends,
or in the spuriously precise terms of LinkedIn,
a 2nd degree connection. You’ve added
various certifications and jobs at companies
which weren’t even around in the days
we worked around a so-called platonic attraction.
The ways we fit together broke down under the strain.

Continue reading “Online and Off”

Motel Bel Air

Dad pulls up in the Rambler, and
we see the sign first: POOL – COLOR TV.
Darkness fills the edges of the parking lot.
My brother and I plan to live up
to the promise of that sign. No trunks,
but some shorts Mom had packed for the next day.
She wearily agrees. Later, from the zero gravity
of turquoise-lit night water, I see Dad’s
cigarette lit like an orange rocket as he blows
white smoke skyward, sitting slumped in a plastic chair.

Continue reading “Motel Bel Air”

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