This is a poem my sweet mother, the greatest writer I know, wrote in 2003. It deserves to be shared.
Maybe there were too many green-soldier
men stacked in closets, then rustled down
from shoe-boxes – green soldiers from
the Buster Brown shoebox versus
green soldiers deployed from the Ked’s shoebox.
Maybe there were too many “choose sides”
backyard football games where
boys sized each other up, salivated
for the win, gripped that pigskin
like it was a leather god.
Bullies were born in school halls or
afternoon playgrounds where push and shove
became tug-of-war for childhood warlords
establishing mini-territories they would carry in their back pockets along with the
tattered baseball card of Mickey Mantle,
or the tiny gray frog they thought could live
in the dark of their jeans’ pocket, at least
until they were called to supper and wandered
home to roast beef, carrots, potatoes,
biscuits warm from the oven and, of course,
These are the leaders of our country – boys
with frogs in their pockets and
rockets’ red glare in their eyes.
And these boys have issued an ultimatum to Tommy Bilbrey in Fourth Period English
he stares straight ahead at chalkboard words.
Meet us out back after school – or else.