Posts Tagged ‘hero’





The hero in me

wants only a happy ending,

but tonight at the concert

every song I loved best

ended in a minor key

that lingered in the air

like a half formed rainbow,

like the scent of soil

after a punishing rain.


How do I teach that hero

to love the dissonance,

to settle into the discord

to shed her raincoat

and stand in the mess

and say ahhhhh?



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And after the lying and cheating

and scratching and beating

and lusting and raging,

deceiving and craving,

after almost three hours

we finally know

that no one, no one

is a hero.

And we walk

through the rain

on this imperfect night

to the stain of our cars

and our imperfect lives.

And it rains.

In the great cast list,

my name will be

listed as the woman

who always played me—

the one who never

quite got the role right,

but damn,

she showed up

with her lines

every night.


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for Billy Miller, remembering events on January 4, 2012



When the man pulled my father

from the icy waters of Lake Michigan,

he did not know years later my step-daughter

would need someone to buy her a sweater

so she would feel nurtured, did not know

that my son would need someone

to make a mosaic with him so that he

could feel loved, did not know

that my daughter would need

someone to tell her that she

was beautiful. When the man

pulled my father out of the water—

my dad had been fishing alone—

that off-duty fireman couldn’t have known

that years later this very daughter

would sit beside her father and hold his hand

and weep at the simple gift

of being able to hold his hand.

The fireman was doing what he knew to do—

to rush to the person in need of help.

He didn’t think then of the other lives

blessed by the man. Did not think

of the other lives he blessed with his hands

when he chose to try, though the odds

of saving the man were low.

He knew only to reach.

Years later, my mother still sleeps

beside the man that was pulled

from the winter lake.

Give us hands that know to reach

for each other—stranger, neighbor,

friend. Give us hands that unthinkingly

choose to save the family

we’ve never met.


See the news story here.






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—after Alden Nowlan, “In Praise of the Great Bull Walrus”

I don’t want to be a super hero,

not every day for the rest of my life,

but for one morning, when not a whole lot

was going wrong with the world,

when Lex Luthor and the Joker

and whoever it is that steals

single socks from the drier were all

sleeping in instead of causing mischief,

well, that morning I would like to meet

Spider Man and Bat Man and Super Man

and the customer service woman at iTunes

who got me the whole refund after my son

thought he found a glitch in their system

and ordered $440 worth of gemstones

in Clash of Clans, yeah, her and the Green Lantern

and Emily Dickinson and Temple Grandin and the Hulk,

and all those other heroes, and, we’d be sitting around a table

in a sunny diner somewhere, not talking

for once about how to save the world,

just reading the menu, discussing the reasons we prefer

our eggs poached or scrambled or fried,

you know, something about the way

that the yolk when it’s not cooked too long

will spill its gold all over the toast, and

the waitress would come and pour us more coffee,

and there would be no reasons for anyone

to hop up from the meal and pull on their cape.

Nope, we’d just sit there as morning

yawned into midday chatting about how the rains

came at just the right time this year, and how

the fireflies were out last night, and did you catch

that new movie about the mother

who gets her kids ready for school every morning—

and then we’d just slip into that comfortable silence

that sometimes comes when the stomach

is full and the body is warm and you just

have that feeling that nothing could ever go wrong,

well, at least not for a while, not before

the waitress arrives to say that the bill

is on the house as a way of saying thanks

for all you do, just before the bat phone begins to ring

and the kids begin to fight about whose turn it is to

play with the toy airplane, and the identity thieves

steal Clark Kent’s name and the pirates board

another ship, before from the kitchen

there comes the scent of potatoes

burning on the stove.

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While digging
in the garden rows,
my son looks up
from his work
of ripping apart a clump
of roots and says to me,
Mom, how could
anything ever go wrong
with this day,
and I think,
my darling,
you teach me
so beautifully.
There are days
we forget that life
will unfold for us
if we let it.
It’s not that nothing
could go wrong.
Of course it will.
But if we are not
the heroes of our
days, rather the narrators
who notice and relate
all the events,
whether cheerful or tragic,
with equal interest,
well then even
the wrong things
are right. As it is,
he does not step
barefoot on the hoe
with its spikes
turned up nor do I
hobble to the house
with a back too sore
to stand. And the day
unfolds as some days
do, with nearly nothing
to report except the
some clouds, the sun
still gaining—and
a mother and son
got the planting done.
Nothing to show for it yet
except the smile on my face
and the dirt still under
his fingernails. But I have
to admit I am glad there was
nothing painful or difficult.
And on this day, my son
is the hero of the poem.
And I can watch his mother
typing out her joy as if
I am not the same woman.
Between these two view points,
there is a garden. I walk
its rows. I bring it water.
What grows is what will grow.

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