Never Had a Hip

By Randall A. Wells, Originally for Joseph T. Moskal, M.D. Revision of July 2018.

By step or spoke, K to twelve–
Cracking acorns underfoot, dodging puddles,
Zooming on gotta-slide-ice,
On snow, galoshes printing “I was here.”
Belly vaulting onto hillside sled,
Behind home plate, mask to bat, crouch-and-springing,
Odd jobs meant lunging on a shovel,
Pulling a leaf-clogged rake or hoisting white, wet or dry.
Pushing a mower to college by strips or shrinking perimeters,
Scrubbing for bucks with knees themselves polishing floor.
Those cardboard boxes at the A & P
Didn’t load themselves onto a dolly, twist-rip open,
Purple-price-stamp the goods, and load shelves.
For overnight weeks I hauled pallets on a factory mule-team.
Living across from imagined Morocco,

Sand slanted us waveside-hikers
One tilt the first stretch, the other the return gimp
Against our earlier toes intaglio.
dripping natatorium-pencil marked my 200th half-mile.
Climbing stairs as if painted on flat, I scoffed at Down-Buttoners.
Slammed the axe, mounted the roof-ladder and trod the pitched shingles.

Now carry-hugged a child—Dad gravida.

Pedals and shoes hit the sub-div circuit,
For twenty years, neighborhood’s coast to coast to coast to coast.
The elliptical—Emperor of the Gym—put up high resistance
But always yielded underfoot.
And asena by asena—plank, twist, and tree—still no hip.

Till one day I met this joint by “Ouch.”

Same greeting when left foot reached downward stair fifteen.
New acquaintance then declined to lift grandchild.
“Oil me,” it begged.
Surgeon reported, “Bone on bone,”
Buried the late faithful unseens of myself,
Buttressed me with polyethylene: “Have fun
At Seventies School, don’t jump or run.”



Poem for Julien Vasaune on his Third Birthday, April 2, 2013

By Randall A. Wells

Julien woke and wailed, lost
In darkness. Grandpa carried fear
Outside to calming sunlight crossed
Through space to round and convex mirror.
Toucan with its puppet beak
Tried to grab him by the arm,
Then to give his neck a tweak,
But Grandpa said, “Don’t do him harm!
“Take the end off!” Beaded string,
Tight-plugged, of patience little trace.
Refused, he gave an angry swing
And whacked his brother in the face.
Toddler loves his “pennies” —fakes
From Mommy’s daddy’s dad, now missed,
Coins for games. He guesses, takes
The silver out of Grandpa’s fist.
What’s sticking out of Julien’s ear?
“I hope that penny didn’t hurt!
And look down by your button—queer—
Another pokes out from your shirt!”
He laughed and took a coin and stuck
It in the mouth of back-flip dog,
Then took it out and, shades of Puck,
Replaced it with a leapless frog.
“Say ‘Go,’”—he did, and off it rolled,
The Grandpa-barrow—gravel, grass.
Julien knew the sides to hold,
Heard the leafy footsteps pass.
Goldenrod would brush his hair
As facing backward up the lane
He rode the wheel until where
The fence said “Stop.” Too plain:
The cows were nowhere. “Want to climb
Back out?” Why, sure, and then he spots
The stowaways, the ants, no time
To flee the thumb that makes them blots.
Wait to see a leaf down glide.
He doesn’t catch it, autumn’s clock.
So let’s trundle on another ride:
“Whacha see up there?” “Big rock.”
“That’s so big it’s called a boulder.”
Grandpa couldn’t add “Erratic,
Source unknown and nothing older,
Kept for you in nature’s attic.”
A stop unscheduled: “Look for berries!”
In weedy brown he spies a bunch.
Grandpa comes back with the fairies’
Or the birdies’ orange lunch.
“A moon!” Same finger-pointed words
His dad-borne toddler-mom had said.
But sky was empty save for birds.
Oh, Grandma’s crescent nailed to shed!



Photograph by Kim Kyung-Hoon of Reuters,
    Tijuana, November 25, 2018

Her hands clutch children,
heavy wings for escaping
Sovereignty gas,
asylum pickets.
Is that my granddaughter yanked?
I had to look twice.




That childhood earache:
Could it leak from memory
To old eustachians?


Pauper Prodigy

Amadeus rots.
God has a sense of humor,
Cosmic comic, He.


 Mouse-smoke in toaster.
“His eye was on the sparrow,”
His ear missed squeak-screams.


Ear-buzz, crawl-to-clasp,
HIs eye was on the stinkbug:
Catch-released outside.


Cold turkey? Body?
The latter cures the craving
And what’s eatin’ you.



Heard throughout England–
At tit, Forget tit, Guessed tit–
Enough about tit.


  Sleigh-born creche from East
Drawn by eight antlered angels:
Christmas time’s comin’!



            Sura by sura
     Koran-sang Nakamura,


“Hear the other side”:
Goneril, maybe you, I,
Mr. McGregor.


   “Hansel und Gretel”

“Fourteen angels watch”?
Don’t be tricked by Humperdinck’s
Phony euphony.


Martin Luther King
Boulevard’s non-violence:
Click go the door locks.


War Between the States:
How proud, for The Cause, would I
Have sacrificed you.


The Man Upstairs keeps
to himself, ask only for
capital letters.


Old God still exists.
I’ve seen His name on the lists–
at urologists’.


“It is what it is”:
monosyllables true as


Stripped varnish from the rainbow,
Restored blindingly.


     Table Manners

Pass counterclockwise,
Ask everyone a question,
Don’t say cancer, shit.


Mr. Cardinal
crest-flouts camouflage amid
light-green hawthorn leaves,


A death tramatic—
Shared the rails with 22–
Yet pedestrian.



Multflora rose,
Oriental bittersweet
Strangling each other!



Aside from one gal–
a.k.a Mother of God–
Totally scrotal.


Cardinal crest-flouts
camouflage, his feather-foil
light-green hawthorn leaves.


“Der Erlkönig”

Franz’s folkscare pleased
Till the boy had golden curls–
I grab you, grandson!


We clap for cancan
Stand for Halleju-ujah
But sit for exams.


Like the heart, a long-
term, unseen friend: don’t fail me,
short-term memory.


   Humane Regard

The bearded dragon,
the cylindered Alexa:
“Hello, Ace!” and “Please.”


A black bird is not
Necessarily a blackbird
But not vice versa.



All brown featherage
Save for I-see-you yellows–
A real head-turner.


Improved Rhyme

From Pacific to Atlantic,
Gee, the country’s gotten Santic.



Would never learn the word querulous.

Like a refugee from other children,
dragging inside to partying parents,
She whined.

Would never learn the word temerity.

Red-faced from rampaging white cells.
Her twelve years stuck at eleven,
She was small, too, for the hospital bed.

When reckless I climbed next to her.
And stared into her dark eyes,
They smile-sparkled and
She giggled.