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A Few Poems

3 Cinquains

The Mountains

fall steps

quietly to

the witching hour, to dusk

gold tipped kaleidoscope leaves

to fall


The Beach


you may kiss me

I still won’t close my eyes

I belong to the cliffs tonight



The Desert


the sunset will

be beautiful tonight 

but all the photographs just look 

like sand

The Wrong Orange Season

In the backyard of the house my parents rented in a Southern California suburb, lived an orange tree. The fruit was abundant and sweet at its peak. One of my most treasured memories was picking the fruit with my large and growing family. I loved the smell of the ripe oranges, and cherished my dad picking me up to reach the top of the tree. I climbed the ladder to get up even higher, something my older brother was too scared to do. The first time I made it to the highest rung, I felt so brave. I was about to leap off the top step of the ladder, and shouted, 


“Watch me!” 

“Stop!” My Dad 

yelled and ran toward me,

I jumped in his arms.


I was bold and boisterous, but for me to even eat the oranges, 


I needed a grown-up

to break into the peel to

“open it”, so


my tiny hands

could dig in my dirty nails

and peel the orange.


That was the stickiest way to eat the juicy oranges, and we had to take off our shirts and eat it outside. What I liked better was my mom slicing the oranges into smiles. We sucked the juice out of those smiles, then opened our little mouths, showing off our new orange dentures.


One autumn day, my friend, Jennifer P., all of my friends were named Jennifer, came to my house. We were kindergarteners, left unsupervised in the backyard. And why not? The yard was confined by a tall brick fence. We had no dogs to bite us, we were independent enough to walk home from school with friends. We didn’t need


a pregnant mother

with a two year old toddler

watching over us. 


In theory, we were old enough to know better.


It was September, the tree popped with fruit and I wanted Jennifer to see what a good time looked like, so I brought out the great, plastic buckets in which we dropped the bright oranges. I explained about picking the fruit and we got to it. I picked the best oranges. Jennifer asked me if her choices were ripe. I’d feel it, squeeze it, and randomly declared about half of her choices fit for pickin’. 


We twisted the stem 

wrestling the oranges 

into the bucket.


We were small, so we couldn’t work very fast, or do a thorough job. Even so, we managed to clear about ¾ of what we could reach before


my mother came out

jaw dropped -- what had we done

to the orange tree?


Well, I was wrong about ⅔ of Jennifer’s selections being ready and right about the others not. The fruit was


Yellow and tinged green

bitter and inedible

eternally sour.


We got in enough trouble for Jennifer to get sent home, but not until after my exhausted mother issued the consequences.


The oranges we 

picked off the tree would not be

sweet in the winter.


She didn’t do anything more to me than send me to the room my sister, Helen, and I shared. I stared,


Window wide open

once fruit laden, abundant 

now half bald tree.


I was sad for two reasons. I wouldn’t have very many oranges in the winter, and I was not the expert I thought I was.


It wouldn’t be the last time

I thought I knew everything

nor anything.

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