Archive for March, 2010


I live in a world where names
are disposable
I have no choice in the matter
I am nameblind
It is as if I am surrounded by people
with familiar faces & no names
Like a huge convention
& all the nametags are blank
That place your brain reserves for names
is a slippery black hole in mine
I will be on an elevator
& someone I’ve known for years gets on
& I’m sweating because I have no idea
what they are called–none
So I’ve learned to tell people upfront
that I’m terrible at names
But they always say “Me too”
No I want to say You’re an amateur
Have you forgotten family members at a funeral?
Have your forgotten your lover’s name
when you were making love?
Have your children called you long distance
& do you find yourself thinking:
The younger one The blonde
The boy who kept running into walls
Then there is the complication of books
If you read Science Fiction—good luck
You cannot recall or pronounce
the alien names no matter how you try
The Lord of The Rings is an epic tale of
a brave hobbit named kerfgeuirayabvr
guided by the wizard rgdasgsrgpwrhv
who must fight the black sorcerer asrvijairdvpdav
& his evil overlord lsdfkgadufgvaip
to return Strider to the throne
Strider—I remember
That’s not a name it’s something you do
But now I sense skepticism
in the audience Some of you
have gone to college
Some of you are tempted to
raise your hands & say but I’ve
never heard of this ailment before
May I ask your name? Jules?
Well John neither have I
In fact Jack I’ve never met another human
who shares this handicap
So imagine James going through your whole life
with this little corner of shame
this tiny bit of No Can Do
which nobody believes
nobody shares
& nobody understands
Not even you Judy



In Or Out
In Or Out
That’s What Doors Are All About

Take The Cup
Drink It Up
You’re A Kid
You’re Not A Pup

Up Or Down
Up Or Down
There’s The Sky
There’s The Ground

Go And Stop
Go And Stop
There’s The Bottom
There’s The Top

Inside Cool
Outside Storm
Outside Cold
Inside Warm

Day Or Night
Day Or Night
Stars Are Gone
Sun Is Bright

I Stand Up
I Sit Down
I Am Running All A Round

Puppies Bark
Kitties Mew
I Can Sing
How About You?

Sleepy Sleep
Wakey Wake
Givey Give
Takey Take


In a little old house lived a little wild girl.
She stayed all alone in her own little world.
She ran and she jumped and she danced and she played
Alone in the house all night and all day.

Now the little old house was a friendly old house.
It had many big windows and one little white mouse.
The sofa was fluffy and so were the chairs.
There was a big warm fire at the bottom of the stairs.
And the freezer was full of chocolate bars.
And the house had no roof, she slept under the stars.

But the best place of all in the little old house
Was the white white bathroom where the little white mouse
Would sail on the soap in the old white tub.
And the soap made bubbles that went Bubbly Bub Bub.
And the tub grabbed the floor with four terrible paws.
And each paw had four toes and the toes were called Claws.

And the tub was magic. The tub had a knack:
If you told it your name it would say it right back!
You could say Jimmy! and the tub would say Jimmy!
You could say Timmy! and the tub would say Timmy!
You could say Suzi or Peter or Ted
And the tub would repeat whatever you said.

But that was a problem. This was a fact.
For a name was something that the little girl lacked.
For try as she might with a whisper or shout
It was stuck on her tongue and it wouldn’t come out.
If she had a name then why couldn’t she say it?
If a name was a game then surely she’d play it.
If a name was a ball then surely she’d throw it.
Maybe the problem was she didn’t know it!

“WHAT’S MY NAME?” said the girl and she got no answer
she was stuck like a dance on the floor with no dancer.
“What’s my name?” said girl, and she knew it was missing
like a song about lovers that never got kissing.
“Where is everybody? Where’d everyone go?
Does anyone love me? Why don’t they say so?”

The fire wouldn’t say so, the bed wouldn’t speak.
The tub couldn’t talk and the mouse wouldn’t squeak.
The chair and the sofa were fluffin and puffin
But none of them helped. Nobody said nothing!
So the little girl cried. She cried and she cried.
She cried until both of her eyes were dried.

“Nobody loves me,” the little girl said.
“Not the mouse or the fire or the tub or the bed.”
So the little girl lay and she looked at the stars
And she thought, “How lucky some people are.
Somebody loves them, somebody who
Will hug them and kiss them and tuck them in, too.”

Then the little girl slept and she dreamed a strange dream.
She lived in a house that was somewhere between
The stars and the moon and though it was home
There was no one else there and she was alone.
Then the most wonderful, wonderful, wonderful thing
Happened so quickly it changed everything!
The whole house was different though it all looked the same
The little girl woke and remembered her name!

“My name is MAGGIE,” she told the old bed.
“My name is MAGGIE!” the little girl said.
“My name is Maggie and I’m not alone.
Somebody loves me and Now I Am Home!”

“Somebody loves me,” she said to the mouse.
“Somebody loves me,” she said to the house.
“My name is MAGGIE! I know what I knew!”
And the tub said it back. It remembered her, too!

And finally the little girl knew where to go.
She had to go fast, she couldn’t go slow.
So she ran down the hall to where the babies’ room was
Where the twins slept all night in their twin pajamas.
Noah’s was blue and Emma’s was pink.
And sometimes the twins’ pajamas would stink.

But Maggie didn’t care. She was happy and wild.
And the twins were awake and they both had a smile.
They were so glad to see her; they’d been waiting a while.
And she kissed them and told him that she missed them, too.
She said, “Somebody loves you! Somebody loves you!
Somebody loves you! It’s me and I DO!”

—Patrick O’Leary
For Maggie, and Noah and Emma

Fingerpainting by Stephanie Metz “Girl in a Nightgown”
(For more of her work click on the picture)


upon the round black momma

on the cell-phone

pushing her red-capped toddler

in the stroller

on a sunny morning

beside the strip club

Brahm’s Requiem

In the stunning suburban church

the orchestra delivers the goods

The choir swoons

The soloists soar

& the whole beautiful thing

goes on & on

But all the time they’re playing

my eyes keep sliding over

to the stained-glass window

where the yellow-haired angel

is staying the hand of Abraham

The angel’s hair curls upward in an S

& his wings are red

Abraham is surprised

He was all geared up for this

& Isaac his son is looking down & away

clearly traumatized

as his bare white torso & legs

are bound by red rope

& you want to stand up

in the middle of the church

walk over & reach into the window

& tell him: It’s cool It’s cool kid

This is just a lesson your Dad had to learn

about faith & obedience

See? He’s putting away the knife

The angel came in the nick of time

God was just kidding! Isn’t that great!?

It was just a test! A stupid stupid test

& your dad passed

& as you cut him free you realize

there’s not enough room

on this window to tell the whole story

How Isaac will never be able to trust his father again

How Abe will never be able to meet his son’s eyes

How the town will talk about the man

who took a blade to his own son’s neck

& meanwhile the choir & the orchestra

& the soloists are going on & on about

how when the trumpet sounds

every faithful servant will be spared

Death where is thy sting?

Hell where is thy victory?

& in my mind one finger on my left hand rises

& points at one of the most horrific stories

in a book full of them & my mind says


It’s right there

Don’t you see?

Everything you need to know about god

is on that window


It happened on one of those crazy roads

that snake up the Hollywood Hills

where James Dean had his knife fight

at the Griffith Observatory

We parked at a scenic overlook

to watch the sun dive into the ocean

like a perfect hillside pool

& this tanned body builder in a tank top

had a Styrofoam airplane

with wings about this wide

He launched it up into a vortex only he could feel

& the space fell away

as it rose above the valley

then somehow looped back

He must have plotted

its course to perfection

for it curved home on invisible currents

& he snatched it effortlessly

That would have been enough

but as we moved in to admire his craft

he slid back the transparent canopy

& showed us the pilot:

a tiny white mouse with pink claws & red eyes

& all the way to the bottom

down the steep & deadly roads

that skim the edges

of those crazy hills

I wondered about that mouse

What was the flight for him?

Sheer terror

or sweet transcendence?

Or something only small things can grasp

when they are loved & kept & freed

by crazy gods

& flung into the sky