Thursday, June 25, 2015

& This is the war that is going on

photo by cezary borysiuk

There are things every boy should know.

How to open a beer bottle with your teeth,
the birds and how to deliver a good bee sting

are not on the list today,
but are about the only thing #men trends for
most days ---

                           my son and I build a shelter
under the pear tree, of larger limbs trimmed last week
and a few low hangers, still with leaves,
to keep the sun away
                              & I teach him how to hook the end,
for stability,
                   face them down, so the rain has a route
                   to the earth,
                                      to crosshatch bare branches
                                          so it all holds together

& there is no war going on,
like that summer - 
                            sticks & rocks rain,
as I run the path our feet cut through the forest,
retreating from an invasion
                                              -- of my cousins' fort,
leaving devastation in my wake
                                                        out of breath,
                                                        slick with sweat,
                                                        full of victory
I never feel the catch     of the trap,
hear the branch's whistle          
        my leg won't work,
        a spike protrudes from both sides
        & blood & dirt & ---
he's seen the scars
in my calf, on my knee, the faint line
along my ribs, the burn on my arm, my knuckles' braille,
wrist, dent
                                       in my forehead,
these are stories
                          he knows well & I tell,
but this
            is survival, how to
build for two // protect
your fire
              & no metaphor is perfect,
                     which is why you boil the water,
                     know what you can eat
                                             & never complain
                                                 how it tastes,
because it all does not taste like chicken
& not all boys know
                                           these things.


  1. Scars must be known by our children, to see that we are not perfect, to see that's it's ok for them as well, to carry scars, that they, that we are real, soon nothing will taste like chicken but hey X my scars are visible to all who look, few do....
    Could you build a house in a tree big enough for me my three cats,and my memories?

    1. For sure L.

      I imagine we will be going out to the shelter when he wakes up, as he was hoping our cat would find it as well. Ha.

    2. I want to come too. This makes me miss my tree-house, wisteria "grapes" hanging down all over my eyes. The perfect hideout for a little girl.

      Did the cat ever get there?

      Today, this is my favorite:

      "but this
      is survival, how to
      build for two // protect
      your fire"

      And there's something really intriguing here too: "wrist, dent" ... maybe the way it's trying to tickle the ribs above it.

  2. So wonderful to be spending time with your son in this way, this is something my family never did and I think it is very beautiful. Isadora wants to know every last detail of my childhood though there is so much I can't yet tell her.


  3. protecting the fire and knowing what to eat and not and being content with what we have - big and important lessons to learn to not get beaten in the everyday wars we fight

  4. Oh I love this.. how being with your son brought back your own childhood.. Maybe that's the way to really connect back, the good the bad, and everything you learn, and for sure there are things that taste like sprouts and not chicken.

  5. There are lessons to be learned in the living and in the teaching, and lessons to be learned in the stories passed down, in the scars of life shared and remembered, in the bonding on a summer day of father and son! Nice flashback, X.

  6. I bet you are your son's major hero! Great write and great relationship. I wish my son had had a father like that. But I must say he still turned out to be a son I am so very proud of.

  7. Before I forget, I love your pic!!!!

  8. Yes a man has learned lessons he can teach and a boy is wiser for it. You both are blessed.

  9. There are things we can tell our children because of our scars but there are things only they will have to learned for themselves ~ I like how you are teaching your son of the basics of life, survival is a good lesson ~ And some lessons are better taught as time passes on ~ Have a good week ~

  10. Life lessons, great piece and nice of you to share!

  11. Interesting how so many occasions bring us to only about a decade of childhood/teenage memories. I think there is also something about learning and teaching about shelters and fires, basic tools for survival in nature even though, theoretically, they are rarely needed nowadays.

  12. Wow, they laid traps in the forest and you fell into one? That must have been a horrible experience for a child - great war scars to talk about now, though, with your son. Great that you encourage him to experience this (not the trap, but the playing in the woods) for himself, instead of overprotecting.

  13. I could not finish reading without tears .. I wish, oh how I wish my boys had memories, stories shared by their father ~ for them it happened late, they missed so much. As men they have landed in a good place.

  14. You have some typing errors you might want to repair.

    These are my favorite parts of your poem:

    "to crosshatch bare branches
    so it all holds together"

    "I never feel the catch of the trap" (the added space really emphasizes the internal rhyme)

    "a spike protrudes from both sides" (gross, but still awesome)

    "my knuckles braille" (love that)

    1. You'll have to help me out on the typing errors, as I don't see them.

      The one that seems obvious is trends, but it is correct because #men is a singular thing (hashtag).

      But let me know. Right here in the comments is fine, I am not above being wrong. Or grammatically screwball at times. You know the only points I lost on all the assignments in my last grad class - grammatical errors.

    2. oh, nice catches. I have fixed them.

  15. I liked the spaces. I use I like the relationship between you and your son, the building of the shelter, the story of scars. I had such wonderful memories with my father and I treasure. His scars were from WWII. I so enjoyed this.

  16. Scars are often the mark of a brave survivor.. depiction of courage & valor. And the lesson which we pass on to future generations. Beautifully penned :D

    Lots of love,

  17. This is just beautiful! So many undertones and intersecting images. Really, really nice.

  18. Many important life lessons "caught" while camping together, fathers and sons! Thanks for sharing your memories...we learn from pain and scars quite well.

  19. There is so much I admire about this poem. The oneness with nature, learning to tune into your surroundings. Scars are the marks of a warrior who is able to survive. It is wise to be a good fire-keeper in life. You can teach your son the basics and from there he can build as he embarks on his own journey to understanding. Maybe, father and son should camp out in the shelter.

  20. I like the story of father and son and the flashback...there's much warmth and lessons there...

  21. Whew, sounds like a lot of injuries while playing, pretending or even actually fighting in a war. The best thing you can do is teach your son living and coping skills. Well done.

  22. I learned a lot about shelter-building, survival in the wild--to be wary of trusted relatives--from your poem and wish all boys could have access to your knowledge and caring. You don't need a war to find those skills useful. Great job!

  23. the underpaid baristaJune 26, 2015 at 9:10 AM

    "war" is a backwards "raw"

    1. And it leaves many just that way.

      Baristas are some of my fav people.

  24. WOW, this one really got to me, X. The juxtaposition of gentleness in the father with his boy, and remembering all the awful things which had produced those scars....gosh, well done.

  25. So poignant! A tender moment between father and son building new memories.

  26. wonderfully seamless movement between present and past. Sounds like your son has a great dad!

  27. Wonderful, fun and sad at the same time. Well done!