brown paper bag

Once on a yellow piece of paper with green lines he wrote a poem And he called if “Chops” because that was the name of his dog And that’s what it was all about And his teacher gave him an A and a gold star And his mother hung it on the kitchen door and read it to his aunts That was the year Father Tracy took all the kids to the zoo And he let them sing on the bus And his little sister was born with tiny toenails and no hair And his mother and father kissed a lot And the girl around the corner sent him a Valentine signed with a row of X’s and he had to ask his father what the X’s meant And his father always tucked him in bed at night And was always there to do it.

Once on a piece of white paper with blue lines he wrote a poem And he called it “Autumn” because that was the name of the season And that’s what it was all about And his teacher gave him an A and asked him to write more clearly And his mother never hung it on the kitchen door because of its new paint And the kids told him Father Tracy smoked cigars And left butts on the pews And sometimes they would burn holes That was the year his sister got glasses with thick lenses and black frames And the girl around the corner laughed when he asked her to go see Santa Claus And the kids told him why his mother and father kissed a lot And his father never tucked him in bed at night And his father got mad when he cried for him to do it.

Once on a paper torn from his notebook he wrote a poem And he called it “Innocence: A Question” because that was the question about his girl And that’s what it was all about And his professor gave him an A and a strange steady look And his mother never hung it on the kitchen door because he never showed her That was the year Father Tracy died And he forgot how the end of the Apostle’s Creed went And he caught his sister making out on the back porch And his mother and father never kissed or even talked And the girl around the corner wore too much makeup That made him cough when he kissed her but he kissed her anyway because that was the thing to do And at three A.M. he tucked himself into bed his father snoring soundly.

That’s why on the back of a brown paper bag he tried another poem And he called it “Absolutely Nothing” Because that’s what it was really all about And he gave himself an A and a slash on each damned wrist And he hung it on the bathroom door because this time he didn’t think he could reach the kitchen.

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