On Walking Down Maple Avenue with Tom Waits of a Morning in Early Spring

Tom Waits

Can you keep a secret?

I escaped this morning,

sneaking from the house in tiptoes and hushings.

because it’s today

and it’s the only one.

and because of the sun,

whispering in my ear as I lay abed

(Come… Come with me.)

and because of these grey-lined gypsy clouds

wandering the foreign country of the sky.

The wind like a jubilant river,

rushing from the still-white mountains, wild and snow-clad,

down to this grey pavement, littered with

small stones and

the grim, cold remembrances of ice;

laughing in gutters, astonishing stately pines with its impish dancing and


and giddy cavorting in treetops;

pushing at my chest like an insistent child,

(Look! Look about you! See this!)

A man passes me, on the street.

he is clad in mountain gear.

knapsack, and hefting a stout stick.

They are familiar with each other,

he and the stick.

They have been places together.

We nod to each other-

the sole surviving refugees of winter-

and there is an exchange of understanding,

there is my very own joy, battered and determined,

shining out of his face.

With all my wishing, I wish him well.

Because, as it is,

we’re bound for the same place.

And then he is gone, and it’s just Tom and me,

he, doing that thing he calls singing,

which is really just my own blood-beat pulse

in three-quarter time,

spoken back to me in the sweetness of

rusty ball-bearing poems on

black asphalt pages.

The harsh, infinite echo

of the exquisite, raw imperfection of man.

Ahead, the hills are

harrumphing in gruff tones

of hibernation.

Atop the same, sits a congress of clouds –

an assemblage of ambassador thunderheads,

and representative mists –

discussing, no doubt,

matters of great import

in the Sky Lands.

And that’s where I’m headed.

I’ll cut across the schoolyard where Maple

hits Mill Creek,

and there’s that stretch of woodland,

and then the hills.

I’ll be back by dinnertime.

Then will I tell you of things…

things that will worry your insides like seeds

pushing and stretching and

leaning to light.

Things like this jewel-bright

icicle, dangling and dripping down these long-fingered

fir needles,

and how, when I pass here again this afternoon,

it will be gone.

Things like this birdsong,

hung, banner-like; waving in

bright triumph

from hidden nests.

Like the thing inside me that is

life defiant;

that is this tadpole, small and brown,

swishing his tail

in his puddle home,

dreaming of the day he will have legs

strong and long

and of the way he will leap,

away and away

into all his vivid, mythical days.

Original content Copyright © 2011  Shawnacy Marie Kiker. All Rights Reserved


4 responses to “On Walking Down Maple Avenue with Tom Waits of a Morning in Early Spring

  1. I’m glad you could escape , this is a Favorite .

  2. I live in the Sonora Desert, so my terrain vastly differs from yours; but the sensations and sentiments are nearly identical. I could walk in wonder for miles and hours, my heart and soul elevating with each step. And Tom Waits? LOVE!!!

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