My next door neighbor Kathleen complained

to the parents of the cap-gun kids:

“Give ‘em toy guns, later it’s real ones!”


“Shouldn’t have said that – they’ll torch my house!”


Ah no, Kathleen, too sad. So we trade

mock-advice: these days it's best not coo

at babies, might seem sex-abuse;

or go hit your horn when a kid in a car

cuts you off? uh-oh, he may need to shoot you.


Later I’m walking the beach where a kid

can’t seem to get his kite aloft.

“Run at the wind!” people yell, but he runs

in circles – the flimsy thing won’t do right

so more folks become a Village to set him

straight, the kite starts up, I’m shouting

“Let out more string!” but he runs in more circles:

flop; a sad “Aaaah...” yet one day, who knows,

maybe he’ll learn to run at the wind,

share the sweet world with my neighbor Kathleen,

let out more string.

Over the years Barry Spack's poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, Atlantic Monthly, Paris Review and hundreds of other journals. Known mainly as a poet/teacher, Barry has brought out various novels, stories, three poetry-reading CDs and ten poetry collections while teaching literature and writing at M.I.T. & U C Santa Barbara. His most recent book of poems, FOOD FOR THE JOURNEY, appeared from Cherry Grove in August, 2008.

This is one of those poems directly from the life. There's a tiny house across from us (and from my neighbor Kathleen) on Bath Street in Santa Barbara. It has often been rented, over the years, by what we've come to call "The Music Lovers," namely folks who play their so-called music loud enough to vibrate fillings in teeth four light years away. We'd complain, of course, and be threatened with retaliation, and there Kathleen went and gave one version of these Yahoos some child raising advice! On the same day of my chat with her I ran into the kite-flying kid on the beach. The problem of bringing (especially young) people into some state of civilization is a perennial one.




Copyright 2009