Riding home double, atop the handlebars, a dangling legcatches spokes. Like the ticker-tape soundsof cards flapping, like the sudden violence

done to childhood when you trust too much.

After, I rememberhow we’d beg to skip church ifwe went to Sunday school, ifwe helped with the baby, ifwe’d mow that afternoon, and the permission once given

felt like the hill rising up out of the ditch aftercrossing the highway and before we walkedthe half-mile home together in quiet, betweenthe treeline and the houses.

But, we were riding a bike & here we are walking.

And the point of this is an entirely conventional story, subtitled“Virtue Rewarded” or “Vice Punished,” as all storiescould be subtitled. Once when retelling

the story of the bike accident, how the bike became airborne, spiralingover me, and the soft landing of pine needles and sugar sand, I rememberedthe boy jokes you’d tell me; where the punchlinealways referenced my self and my kin.

Depression may be just a poorly told tale. And when I went down

into the needles & sand, you arcedover me, the back half of the bike propelled you so far forward –and we were only lucky that no one was worse hurt, no splintered bone, no

speeding back to church to rouse the parents from the sermon, the slumber, the complacence,

to sound the alarm. When I tell the story now, all I remember is that I loved you,and then later, I didn’t. In the sandboxwe’d spend summer hours building canals and tunnels and bridgesand running the garden hose, creating worlds beyond any of today’s simulations;

the time we found a bag of cement in the barn & decided to make it all permanent

and after transplanting minnows and crawfish from the river, we came back

the next morning and they were all dead. I sort my poems into piles, and this pile is called:Poems Only To Be Read To Strangers.

Reprinted from All Beautiful & Useless (BlazeVOX, 2015).

BMP Celebrates National Poetry Month

If “love calls us to the things of this world,” then poetry too can call us to think about challenging questions, difficult situations, and social justice, implicating and engaging the reader with the world we live in, in the hope that this engagement is a step toward wrestling with our better selves.