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For my dad

How you choose to be good

You don’t know this boy
but you love his mother.
The interior of your car
smells like warm leather
and the rolls of Certs
you keep stashed in your pockets.
You picked the boy up from his house
to stay at your place
while you take his mother out of town
to a casino somewhere
just over the state line.
The car is a Grand Marquis,
white, with a supercharged engine
taken from a police cruiser,
its power vibrates through the seats
like a giant cat’s purr
always on the verge of a roar.
You don’t know this boy,
but you know that his mother
will soon be your wife,
and soon you’ll all live
under the same roof.
So when the boy says to you,
he’s never had someone
he’d be proud to call his dad,
and he wonders if you’d mind
if he called you that,
you should simply smile
and slap a hand across his knee,
and say, Sure, son, sure,
that’d be just fine by me.

NEW POEM

Life Lessons in Dog Walking

My dog always stops
to smell the roses
blooming or not blooming
by my neighbor’s mailbox,
as if to say, there’s beauty here
even if you can’t see it,
just wait.

Every new scent must be cataloged,
inspected and identified,
from the honeysuckle falling
over a church’s park fence
to the latest piece of roadside trash
discarded from a reckless window
with hints of the owner still attached.

Every new face must be greeted
with a smile
and an unencumbered joy
that swells through the body
like hot air inside a balloon,
as if to say, oh, you live here too,
isn’t it wonderful?

There’s awe to be found
in the mundane
sight and sound
that is anything but mundane,
unbridled pleasure
released in each discovery
of this, an ordinary life.