Calomine Lotion

When Frost took the road less travelled
I hope he wore pants and bug spray
Because on this less travelled road
I went unprepared
And now the bites and scratches annoy me enough to think
Just maybe
I should have taken that trodden path


Like a ghost he buzzes in my ear
This mosquito bite will fade
But listen, just listen, son of mine
Hear it?

Yes, Father, I do. I hear…

Wait, don’t tell them
Make them go and find it,
Their trail, wherever it may bend,
Will sound different in ways not worth
But in ways profound

I still hope he had blue jeans on,
Because poison ivy sucks
No matter how content the soul.

And now I have no idea where I am
But it’s okay though,
stay where you are
I don’t need help anymore
I’ll get there,

Regardless, where I am matters as much as the molecular construction of water
To a sailor in a storm
He just hopes to ride the swells
And come down on the other side

I better keep walking
See you soon.

PS please have calamine lotion

When the Doll Broke (for Emma)

When the doll broke, shattered on the floor
What did she find inside the dusted shell?
Did daddy leave a note tucked away in the leg –
Some words that would remind her of a love
He promised would never fade like the linens
The doll wore everyday, no matter the occasion.
By the time she discovered it, would her heart be
Repaired well enough to beat a regular rhythm
When she saw his name or remembered his picture
Turned down on the dresser with the other dolls
Collected on his travels, now just dust-laden?
The good book talks about dust to dust, and this
Dust feels like the blood from his heart when it
Was admitted to the floor of a life left with crumbs
Of a plan, of a hope, of a stitched patchwork claim
Of promises long ago tossed in a barrel over the falls.
Now he walks down the path that had the better claim
Having blazed the trail back to that divergence
In the yellow wood. He stared down both again,
With a deep sigh, saw the trodden one and turned
Away from it, choosing instead the one his heart
Called him to take when he wasn’t listening, when
He thought its regular beat could not be trusted.

Image: Girl Accident Broken Doll by Henri Guillaume Schlesinger (German painter, 1814-1893)

Into My Own: My Story as a Writer, Part I – How It Began (1985)

Into My Own – Robert Frost (1913)

One of my wishes is that those dark trees,
So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze,
Were not, as ’twere, the merest mask of gloom,
But stretched away unto the edge of doom.

I should not be withheld but that some day
Into their vastness I should steal away,
Fearless of ever finding open land,
Or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand.

I do not see why I should e’er turn back,
Or those should not set forth upon my track
To overtake me, who should miss me here
And long to know if still I held them dear.

They would not find me changed from him they knew—
Only more sure of all I thought was true.

Robert Frost began his fabled poetry career with this poem, the first in his collection, A Boy’s Will published in 1913 by Henry Holt and Company in New York City. When I look back on how my poetry career began with its reliance on cliché and painfully forced “abab” rhyming quatrains, I discover my invitation to steal away into my own vast woods, fearless of what I would find. Frost’s first poem articulates my journey perhaps better than I ever could. I should expect this, really, as growing up in New Hampshire, Frost serves as the first distant poetic forebear in my life like that unknowable and elusive relative who captures the imagination of a young child. Of course, Frost wasn’t a relative, but provides the first introduction to poetry for, I can imagine, any child of New Hampshire. We all read “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and deciphered the significance and metaphor of “And miles to go before I sleep” often with some degree of awe. As teenagers, we each vowed to find our road not taken that needed wear, knowing it would make all the difference. High school yearbook kind of stuff, right?

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