leaving home

swing set

that summer, the park ached

with the screams and yips

of kids and dogs loosed

upon it


it was green then,

pool full, moms with sunglasses

kids with flippers and sea monster floats

people burned weenies, took in a breeze,

smiled at each other

with beer foam moustaches


around, in the houses, mamas sang in kitchens—

bread steam, meat-and-potato sear

floated over the baseball diamond

that crawled with those spidery little guys

on St. Helena’s B-Team,

who was beating St. John Francis Regis again—

porches creaked, smoldered with cigars,

a hundred dogs on every block

raised the living and the dead

at each out-of-sync clock chime


anyone who had any money

bought grape pop in a bottle

a pack of luckies, or a snort of whiskey

and life was as good

as it was ever going to get


that summer, in the park,

in the pool, we watched

young mamas and older sisters

cross and uncross their legs,

snap their swimsuit tops

and pull the elastic out from behind

with index fingers


it was before life became knotty,

before the girls got pregnant,

and things went bad with cops

parents, brothers and sisters


and we all got the hell out


that summer was as good

as it was ever going to get

but there was no way to trace the lines

through the waves in the water,

to see the reflections in the sunglasses