poem01 Jan 2018 08:33 am

When we were kids,
no one wanted to be the zombie boy
from The Nightmare Before Christmas,
the fat kid flanked by zombie parents
and guided through each day.
Even when he’s not attached to Mom
by a leash or held on Dad’s shoulders,
you know he’s never been by himself
to the park, or what passes for a park
in that Gothic Podunk.

No, everyone wanted to be the three feral kids,
the Huck Finn Lost Boy kids,
wolf pup pack,
stylish street gang of three:
devil kid, witch kid, dead kid.
Bonds stronger than summer camp lanyards.
Running wherever by themselves with each other.
Adventures beyond gray hills, candy for dinner,
never flinching at the Louise Bourgeois spiders.

We wanted to be kids like that,
mouths and feet free.
Parents are missing in stories for a reason.

But stories are stories,
and in stories you know
Jim the freedman or James the pirate or Jack the skeleton
is ready to step in. And look:
here comes the car driven by adults,
the three kids riding small-town-cool on top,
their tricks wordlessly forgiven
as they return to the safety of the square.

As children we knew we were not in a story,
and that refusing the leash meant refusing the shoulders.
That “lost” would mean something different to us,
something with sidewalks and broken glass
and stale smells we did not recognize.


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