from the slow fear…

A student at Liberal Elementary in Liberal, Kansas for three years, it was traumatic to have to leave for California. Our stint in Liberal was the longest we’d ever had in one place. It felt like home. But Dad had lost his job and had no prospects in Kansas, so we moved back out to California, where I was born.  The train ride, in coach, of course, seemed nightmarish to me as it must also have seemed to my parents, trying to corral three young boys for the long trip.  And my parents’  stay in Liberal had come to nothing, again.  I remember the disturbed lady in the car ahead of us who shocked me with her sadness. And then our new home in Pomona, California seemed so different. It was if we had gone to another planet. 


from the slow fear…


…of being taken for days

by train on which a

red-headed woman

babbles and moans,

guarded by a stern lady

in a car just in front of us

that we have to walk through

to get to the bathroom


by train to another town with

yet another school and

different air on the skin

and to another tiny home

but unlike the others

this one doesn’t sit alone

on the prairie rather

it shares a wall with people

who mom does not quite trust


our fourth home in seven years

into which we bring our

cardboard suitcases

and the fears of parents

who have only

prospects for jobs

a home among homes where

people don’t look like us

who look at us

with suspicion and distrust


a home with a hidden side-yard

where my brothers

bring stolen matches

to set dried leaves

and grass on fire.


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I've been writing mostly poetry for many years and have gotten a number of works accepted in publications and anthologies. I'm most interested in communicating with poets for whom craft is a high priority. I enjoy finding and commenting on poetic gems in other people's work. For my own work, I welcome polite comments, whether positive or critical.

5 thoughts on “from the slow fear…”

  1. Nicely written and pictured the story/the memories… It’s never been forgotten anything about our childhood years…Especially such a big changes… They are first bricks of our old body/brain/mind or of us…. Thank you dear Michael, have a nice day, Love, nia

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you, nia. it does amaze me that we can remember scenes from so long ago, and that we can remember the feelings, as well. i like your metaphor of these memories as bricks that make up who we are. — michael

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It is often said, that children are “adaptable” — I believe this is due entirely to necessity…what choice have they in the world of adult drama? But, as adaptable as children may be, they carry their wounds with them. The images you present here are jarring…my guess is not nearly so close to as jarring as living them must have been.


    1. carrie, good point about adaptability. i think inevitably we all carry some wounds from childhood. as i unpack some of the memories from my cardboard suitcase, i hope that i can understand more about myself, my family, and other families that face far worse circumstances. as always, thanks for reading and for your always perceptive comments. — michael


  3. Moving several times as a child is the kind of experience that will exert a power over your whole life. I also know this firsthand. You’ve captured this experience very well. The leaves and grass on fire is a haunting way to end.

    Liked by 1 person

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