Sample Poems by Charles
Ariel didn't speak
for almost two
one quiet morning on Walloon Lake,
I approached the breakfast table
steaming pot of tea. I poured
a cup and took a sip. "Hot tea,"
Ari said, clear as a speech
This kid was no cliche.
No "mama" or "dada"
first words for him.
couple days later he looked at us
and said, "pate." "Pate!"
Judy and I yelled!
"Hot tea and
pate!" we chanted,
and danced on the beach,
and held him close,
felt his warm baby
on our necks, and thought,
hey, this kid might turn out
Ten years old and
transfixed, I stood
beside my baseball idol, Jim Gentile.
That year, or the next, he hit 46
made a run for the Babe's record,
only bested by the Mick with 56.
I handed Mr.
Gentile the official Little League
baseball I'd brought with me all the way
from Cheyenne to LA
on the promise
of seeing this game between the Orioles
and Angels. He graciously
my ball and I guarded that graying orb
for thirty years until Ariel, my son,
years old. It was a hot Sunday
afternoon and we wanted to play ball
down at Koenig Field where
was a backstop and canvas bases
we could run. We looked everywhere,
find a ball, so I grabbed
the one Mr. Gentile had signed for me.
What else could I do? I can't
which one of us hit that ball into
the jungle of forsythia, ferns, weeds,
brambles that lined our field,
but try as we might, and we tried hard,
we never found that ball
Gentile's name written in blue ink
between those ancient Little League
often walk past Koenig Field,
dawdle watching young parents
throw the ball with their
girls now as well. The details
of the game with Ari, twenty-six
summers past, and the
Gentile played against the Angels
in 1960, have dwindled, lost
in the folds of
memory. As for
that ball, the one Jim Gentile
signed, it rests in the palm
with the crack of a bat,
the chirp of Ari's voice,
Gaia's Stringy Fingers
Half way up that
mountain I remembered
that I was sixty years old. The mosquitos
were as big as Russian migs
the size of nose cones. My Eddie Bauer
cotton shirt was no defense. Ari, my
was in his element, circling me
several times as we climbed this Big
Horn in the
Almost at the top, where a lake lay
near the ground we would
a woman and her three kids panicked
past us down the trail in a rush.
blood drained from her face,
her voice shook, "There's a moose
and her calf up there." Horror
her lips: "They kill more people
each year than any other wild animal!"
frightened four were past us
quicker than Rocky could say "Bullwinkle."
Ari chuckled and
resumed his trek
while I stood still. "I don't know
that I want to keep going," I
"I'm no match for an angry moose."
Ari took off his pack and patted my
"Now let's think about this dad,"
his voice was gentle, "settle down,
stay calm." This role
would have been funny had terror
not rampaged through my guts
like SEAL Team
Six after Bin Laden.
I was not only the daddy here, but
a shrink with thirty years
treating anxiety-in others. "What
are you afraid of, Dad?" His face
unwrinkled by worry, head bent
to one side in the "I understand"
approved by the American
Psychological Association. Before I
could respond, my inner SEAL
locked on their target and fired.
"I have to shit," I bellowed, took
paper, found a tree
that hid me, and assumed the ancient
position. What was it I felt
underneath me? Gaia's stringy fingers
pulling me toward my primordial
or just tall grass? No
matter. The product of my efforts
behind the tree was
I didn't know whether to baptize it
or give it a military funeral-
gun salute, and a flag.
When I rejoined Ari on the trail
my fear was gone. "Let's go," I
Ari smiled as the two of us finished
our hike. At the top we
the mother moose and her calf,
in the lake of our destination,
on pondweed and lilies-immersed
in the peace of parent and