Write me: rjn@richardjnewman.com

Free Radicals

Leaves fall
onto the pond

ran­dom par­ti­cles
danc­ing to laws

they couldn’t name
even if the god

that does not exist
descend­ed this moment

and him­self com­mand­ed
them to speak.

Our son sleep­ing
nes­tles in his stroller

ani­mals no doubt
track­ing with him

through his dreams
the mud of this day.

When he wakes
he’ll say the sto­ry

back to us
plot points

bounc­ing off each oth­er
the way these row­boats would do

if all at once their pilots slept
which in its way

is how we got here
bumped and bond­ed

released from our­selves
into this hope

this boy this
his own life.

My Son’s Theology

Sha­hob asks if I believe in God.
I tell him no; he doesn’t ask me why.
Instead, he tells me God is a dust-speck
float­ing on the wind, watch­ing
and wav­ing, though we can’t see Him.

And God cre­at­ed noth­ing, Sha­hob says,
except Him­self, but He’s not lone­ly,
and He’s not sad, so we laugh, pic­tur­ing God
loung­ing pool­side at some Hol­ly­wood
superstar’s house. We don’t dis­cuss God’s gen­der.

Cool drink in hand—when I ask,
it’s orange juice of course—God’s wear­ing
pre­cise­ly the gun-met­al-blue sun­glass­es
Sha­hob con­vinced us just last week
to buy him for the beach. He puts them on now—

they’re right next to his bed—
leans back against the wall and waves.
“And if you do notice God is there,”
he says, sit­ting up straight,
rais­ing his eye­brows and smil­ing,

don’t be afraid to say hel­lo,
or give Him a high-five.” Then my son
lifts God’s bev­er­age in the gen­er­ous wel­come
he imag­ines divin­i­ty is and grins,
Just make sure He rais­es His hand first.”

My Son Asks Me To Make A Poem from His Dream

I met a man in old and tat­tered clothes
walk­ing alone along a moon­lit road.
His face was black, his beard gray, his load,
the years that bent his back, the heavy blows
of Time’s hard ham­mer. His right hand gripped
a wood­en staff, his left…there was no left.
The stump below his elbow, the scars—he’d been whipped—
marked him as a thief, and I won­dered what theft
so old and thin a man could pos­si­bly com­mit
to deserve such tor­ture. Out of respect
I did not speak, but when he passed he spit
at me and vain­ly tried to stand erect.

The vision end­ed there. I went to tell
my king, “Repent! Or live a liv­ing hell!”

Back to For My Son, A Kind of Prayer