Skip to main content


She could never cross that landing
At the top of the shoe-worn stairs
Without the past coming for her,
Gripping her arms painfully.
Sad truths she should never have known
Sprang from depressions in plaster
And hurled brutally against it.
Her son drawing himself from his room,
Seeing that man, red and sweating,
His knuckles white and unrelenting,
He had expected to feel fear,
Even greater than the fear that had held him
Trapped behind his own door
For so many years of night.
But he saw something now
He hadn't seen before;
He saw how small his father was,
How much bigger he himself had grown,
And seeing this made him bigger still.
Before she could voice the terror
Of what he might also become,
Her husband was staggering down the stairs,
Just catching himself on the banister.
And looking up, panting, trembling,
He saw his son
As he had never seen him before.
He saw how big he had grown.
He saw something else as well,
And it was this that stopped him from raging
Back up the edge-worn stairs.
Seeing the man on the landing
Hovering over him like a warrior angel
Telling him it was ended,
He saw himself and turned,

And never climbed those stairs again.


Susannah said…
this is an incredibly powerful poem - thank you for sharing it with us
Anonymous said…
Another epic this week. A whole story. Crunched magnificently.
Bice Sagan said…
A lot of young men have found themselves on that same landing. Gripping read!
Excellent - dramatic and thought provoking.

Popular posts from this blog

Dawn in an Hour

Dawn is in an hour;
in a night.
A light on the long street
on the grey river,
on a long walk of broken clays.
It takes only a streetlight
to bare the sighs,
the yawn of dark alleys,
of quiet honesty;
the great peace
of telling without cause,
without want.
The arm stretches
and guides the body;
the body doubles its warmth.
Laughter snaps
against brick and glass,
and the eyes combine;
heart combines with heart.
And dawn is in the hour,
in the night.

The Day My Brother Flew

The day my brother flew,
I prayed for the last time;
Asked for his acceptance,
A chance to say goodbye.
Stood inside the chapel,
Whispered through the motions,
Knowing in my chest
I did not believe.
Months gone from that day,
I stood inside a basement,
Staring out the window,
Chainlink in my eyes.
A host of white lights came,
Gathered right beside me,
Waited till I turned,
Slowly sank away.
I never told my folks.
They could not believe it.
I don't know what I saw,
If I’m lying to myself.
The day my brother flew,
I sat down on a stairstep,
Fingers in my hair,
Asking why I breathe.
He lived and enjoyed life.
I don’t even like it.
That was '91;
The answer never came.

When I See It

I don’t believe in time.
There's much more world left;
So much more to learn,
And I don’t believe in time.
I believe in shadow birds flying
Through the green of mown grass
Under the squint-bright sun;
An ocean dappled with clouds
And the white sails of small boats
Crossing my shoulder;
A thousand dynamic blooms
That I can’t name, speaking
With voices of children
And laughing as they pass;
The reassuring chatter
Of great wooden beasts
That sermonize patience
And continuity.
But I don’t believe in time
Or the limits it implies.
I don’t believe in the failure
Of the manifest soul.
I don’t believe death will result
From the cessation of habits
That feed my blood,
Because I won't believe
In a future nothingness
That I can’t see from here.