Wednesday, August 5, 2020


When I was a child,

there was a large, grassy vacant lot

next to my parents’ home

where I spent all the daylight hours,

running and pretending and exploring,

playing with my childhood best friend

and all the kids who lived on our block.

In summer we harvested the dark purple berries

from the branches of the mulberry tree,

wishing that they tasted better.

In fall we amassed rolling hills of crunchy brown leaves

and leapt into them, arms spread wide,

sending the leaves scattering with a whoosh,

laughing as we rose to dive again.

In winter I forged a path with red vinyl snowsuit legs

and feet growing chilly in the season’s new snow boots.

One spring, I ran through the field alone,

playing some game with imaginary friends or horses,

and I stumbled upon a large hole in the ground,

which was filled with large, writhing, naked worms.

I stared at it, frozen, as though it were a portal to hell,

then ran back home,

as fast as I could.

I quickly returned to playing there without fear,

and I never encountered this horror again,

never understood what I saw,

wondered sometimes if it was just a dream.


When I was older,

still a child

but too old to play so freely,

the lot was sold, and a large house was built there.

A wooden privacy fence was built around the backyard.

I hardly see any of the grass I used to roll around in,

where I’d lie on my back, watching the clouds drift by.

That mulberry tree is long gone.

But somewhere, maybe just under our neighbors’ basement

or deep underground,

under their deck porch or propane grill,

something mysterious and dark twists and thrashes,

a Cthulhu or land-Kraken waiting to emerge

from the depths of Griffith, Indiana.

Stars Fell on Alabama

The stars fell on me last night,

in a very literal sense.

The farther you go out in space,

the weirder things get.

I was pulled into an invisible vortex,

and all of space and time and matter

started bending around me,

and the metal of my ship was tearing and twisting,

falling apart with hellish groans.

And I should have been destroyed then,

and maybe I was,

but just when I thought

I’d be ripped into ribbons,

everything went white and silent,

then I opened my eyes

and it was 1978,

and I was two years old again,

in my parents’ old house

in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Everything seemed so large and strange.

A sunbeam poured through my bedroom window.

A softly droning box fan

made the white lacy curtains flutter,

and a dog was barking in the yard next door.

I had just woken up from a nap,

and I was determined to get out of my crib,

so I stood up on the little mattress,

threw one leg over the white railing,

then the other,

then slowly lowered myself down

to the floor,

soft brown carpet beneath my bare feet.

And I toddled out to the living room

to find my mother,

who was drinking a cup of coffee

in the kitchen,

and she looked at me with surprise,

amused but also a bit alarmed,

“How did you get here?” she asked.

And did I remember that right?
Is that what she said?

How could that have happened in 1978?

As soon as I doubted this vision,

the noise and the gravity and the spiraling

all came back to me

for just a moment,

but then I was through,

the birth was over.

And though I didn’t know where I was,

my ship was in one piece,

and I was in one piece,

and it was very, very black and still.

I could only see a few stars ahead of me,

we bewildered few

who had survived the journey.