Teaching Little Fingers About Injustice

The day I learned that Papa Haydn died
My small, untutored fingers clenched with rage.
Beethoven’s teacher was to me denied!
My genius crushed at just four years of age.

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Vanport City, Oregon (1943-1948)

REMEMBER:
The government is looking out for you.
DIKES ARE SAFE AT PRESENT.
We couldn’t say it if it weren’t true.
YOU WILL BE WARNED IF NECESSARY.
Invention’s mother’s gonna let you know.
YOU WILL HAVE TIME TO LEAVE.
Sit tight; we’ll tell you when it’s time to go.
DON’T GET EXCITED.
Vanport City won’t get washed away!
Relax, and have a happy holiday.

HOUSING AUTHORITY OF PORTLAND
MEMORIAL DAY 1948

Brinksmanship

Oh, dear. It’s late.
It’s 10:04…
…now 10:05!
Just like before
(Like, every day–
Er, night–this week),
Another late-night
Verse I seek.
Why can’t seem
To find the time
While it’s still light
To write a rhyme?
How come it’s dark
And time to sleep
Before I take
The time to keep
This streak unbroken?
All this year
I’ve fended off
The fate I fear
Will overtake me
If I blink
And don’t leave time
Enough to think
Of something I
Can type with thumbs
And post before
Twelve midnight comes.
Today, again,
I’ve held it off.
And how? ‘Cause I’m
That good! (Cough-cough!)

Grisly Bare

Some scalps shine when shorn of hair
Others (mine) look grisly bare
A wider part was just the start
Until the fuzzy wasn’t there

I’d say, No fair! but I don’t care
‘Cause I can’t see it anyway
And when it rains the water drains
From fuzz-free flesh and flows away

A whole headful of follicle
Would suit me fine, I won’t deny
But ragged stubs and transplant nubs
Aren’t worth it, so, Good hair, goodbye!