Once upon a time
there were 57 squares of sidewalk
between my house
and my best friend’s front door
two streets to cross
one alleyway
where we played kick-the-can
in the indigo twilight
of many summer evenings

Once upon a time
we rode our bikes
through empty college lanes
under canopies of stately trees
and tip-toed through silent
echoing buildings
emptied for the summer
and smelling of institution and old books
till we were summoned home
by the chiming of bells

Once upon a time
we walked home from school
along sidewalks lined
with blazing trees
under the mountain ash
with their clumps of berry-orange
nodding in the crisp breeze
and the scent of wood fires
curling from chimneys beckoned us
as the sun set earlier
and the sky became peppered
with the wings of south-bound birds

Once upon a time
we walked on packed snow
that purred under our feet
our skates slung round
down-padded shoulders
home from the frozen park
we danced from island to island
of grapefruit-gold lamplight
which caught the falling snowflakes
turned them to fairy dust
settling on our cheeks and lashes

Once upon a time
I knew a place called home
and it pressed on me
its every curve and angle
drew in me the lines and conformations
that would become the yardstick
to which nothing else could measure
and though the town has grown soft and fat
and changed in unexpected ways
my heart will always see the bones
beneath the excess
unchanged
like the face of a childhood friend

This springs from another writing challenge from L.L. Barkat, to begin a poem with fairy-tale words. I grew up in a fairy-tale town, which may be why this poem took that direction. The town has changed and grown, been sub-divided and strip-malled (mauled?) into something else entirely, but a part of me will always be a child under the Big Sky… surrounded by the wonder of mountains and the stunning, uncompromising beauty of Montana extremes.

11 thoughts on “Random Acts of Poetry

  • February 11, 2009 at 4:36 am
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    my, my, my.

    would it offend or delight you to know that norman rockwell came to mind as i read. these words have taken the darkroom negative of memory and brought pictures boldly into the light. there is a precision to your writing here which is arresting.

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  • February 11, 2009 at 8:44 am
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    The town I grew up in suffered the same fate. This was an awesome poem. Very well written and I love the descriptive language.

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  • February 11, 2009 at 12:59 pm
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    I was both amused and saddened by the “malled/mauled” comment.

    And the poem itself so beautifully captures the once-upon-a-time-ness of that place. So many really nice things here, but my favorite has to be…

    and the sky became peppered
    with the wings of south-bound birds
    .

    I have always loved that kind of pepper. : )

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  • February 11, 2009 at 3:04 pm
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    MMmmmm. Pictures of my sidewalk friend come to mind. years gone by come alive. This poem is a trip back for me.

    Thanks for the journey.

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  • February 11, 2009 at 3:47 pm
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    Wow! This was so descriptive… I could just SEE it all as I was reading. I really, really enjoyed this… and love how you portrayed the different seasons.

    My favorite…”Once upon a time
    we walked on packed snow
    that purred under our feet
    our skates slung round
    down-padded shoulders”.

    Beautifully written!

    Your blog is really lovely and I’m glad I found it… just stopped over from L.L.’s.

    Have a good day! :o)

    Reply
  • February 11, 2009 at 7:52 pm
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    I dropped in via L.L.’s blog. What a lovely image you paint. I want to live there and walk through the snow with skates slung over my down-padded shoulders!

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  • February 12, 2009 at 3:01 am
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    I have never read anything you’ve written without marveling at your skill…the vivid pictures you paint with your words come alive in my mind and I’m immediately drawn in to the world depicted in the prose or poetry you’ve posted.

    This posting is no different. I loved it.

    When you finish your novel, please let me know. I will definitely want to buy a copy!

    Reply
  • February 12, 2009 at 5:44 am
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    Through your words, I relived my childhood. Thank you. Your words transport me to the time and place you talk about. Every image is so clear in my mind. Beautiful post…

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  • February 12, 2009 at 8:27 pm
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    i like the whole thing. such precious memories. i felt i was there with you in some of this.

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  • September 16, 2010 at 1:35 am
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    Just lovely. Like others have already said, I saw my town. Also, the faces of friends living in each house I passed. Beautiful! Thank you.

    Reply

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