the poetry knook, the poetry of stephen m. james

Goodbye Owingsville (’92), Goodbye Elementary (’94), Goodbye School (’05)

He knew others had to talk first,
had to make their move, watch his eyes
ask how he did his tricks:
slid the slide, swung the swing, how he’d fly,

He knew from his backyard porch and oak tree perch, he’d spy
them and play till supper, till dark,
they were here for T-ball, PTO, parents working late,
it was his ground, his yard, his park,

He knew how to spin, to start
the small merry-go-round,
to make you sick,
lean out, legs bound,

He knew which swing chains sound
squeak or sat high enough to glide
left jaundiced palms,
had uneven sides,

He knew where in the rocket ship tree to ride,
to hide under the trailers of special ed,
dragons guarded dungeons
and climbed the web without being wounded,

He knew that jungle gyms were more than houses founded
for girls to fix supper in or teach school,
Gary was a shorter, but stronger bully,
and one always jumps the tile cracks in school

He knew which gutter spout to climb to the roof,
teachers’ kids just played basketball,
rocks were rubies and gold,
the seriousness of his mom’s third supper call.


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© 1993-2024 by Stephen M. James.