Thursday, April 30, 2009


Ode to my lost penknife
that once rested cool
and sleek as a schooled minnow
nosing in the murky depths
of some young boy's pocket.
The deer-antlered handle, chipped,
diamond cotterpin askew,
Siamese twinned blades of grey
carbon steel, pitted with rust,
arabesqued from myriad sharpenings,
blades that once carved goose quills
or initials in wooden desks with inkwells
and sweet hearts on slender saplings,

in a silvery copse, now grown ancient
with the ponderous weight of age,
bark hearts splaying out into Crab nebulae,
blades that once sliced eggs, cold potatoes.
cleaned fingernails, and pared apple cores,
picked teeth, and in that order.
A small child's penknife,
a memento I carried for three decades,
a small something from my grandfather,
I carried it forth daily into the next century,
played a final game of hide and seek in my pack,
only to be flushed out by Homeland Security.
No: Olly olly oxen free. Or Kick the can.
or frustrated oceans of tears could save it.
It was branded a threat to national safety,
and as we missed our flight anyway,
in it went to the TSA dropbox,
destined for the slag heap.
No more feather quills to sharpen,
no more words to carve and hone
on Formica desks or on the wings of planes,
only this fleeting farewell
carved into memory.


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