Two Poems

Anger Management

It started with a No.2 pencil
you splintered in a tantrum
when you were five.

Amazed at how the golden shards
slid back together
like a jagged puzzle,
you carefully broke new things each night
and set the fragments
 in their fragile grasp --
Crisp-veined carrots.
Pink-frosted sugar cookies.
Potato chips, light as linen.

Then you asked me to guess --
or not broken?

Most of your fury was private,
our secret. 
Sometimes I wound myself around you,
Sometimes I locked my door.
Always something shattered.  

Last year, you punched your bedroom wall, 
a circle of plaster collapsed.
Your perfect hand,
that mighty web of veins and nerves,
tendons and bones,

Every one breaks.

Some thunder.
Some pray.


Fire Escape

A jagged, zig zag hook
dropped from the sky
and seized my son.

He opened the hallway window
and slid onto the black iron angles
as if they called his name.

He swung
from rung to rung
to the pavement,
an action movie reeling
in his mind --

he stole the diamond,
saved the world,
won the red-haired girl.

At the bottom
he looked up at me,
then at the sharp shadow
creasing this tower
of brick,
his next escape
seared on his face.

Later, with stars ablaze,
the night stairs sang to him --
roof promises
and sacred light.

He answered
with ringing foot falls
and ragged breath.

—Lora Keller, Milwaukee, WI