Boys Climbing Trees

Click here to hear me read this poem.

Some things always remain a part of you
Like when you were seven
And shinnied up your first tree
Like some starved Colobus monkey
In search of tenderoni leaves for lunch

Sooner or later, every boy climbs a tree
A rite of passage to manhood
Maybe to see the world from a higher place
Or just because the tree was there
Teasing you silly in the hot mid-morning sun

My first a massive sprawling oak
Jutting out our weedy backyard
Into the red brick alley
Where wood frame garages and steel garbage cans danced
On howling winter nights

I climbed high way up
To the big “y”
Where I perched for nearly five minutes
While my friends below
Proclaimed me a hero

While half the tree remained unexplored territory
I reveled in my accomplishment
Tomorrow was another day
A chance to climb higher
Seeing even more of the world’s vastness

Once the neighbor’s cat, chased by a maniac dog
Darted up the big oak, climbing too far too fast
The fire department was called
To retrieve the terrorized calico
From the high branches

We boys gathered to watch the rescue
Lasting twenty long minutes
Because the cat wouldn’t budge
Till assured its canine assailant was clearly gone
And control of the world returned to the cats

Somehow you just knew
That 1958 would always be
A watershed year in your life
Preparing you for higher climbs
Bigger life adventures ahead

Larry’s Turning Point

the teachers called larry slow
kids were not so kind
to them, he was the village idiot
from the other side of the tracks

as a special education student
larry was stigmatized, ridiculed, teased
and treated as less than everybody else
though the butt of other boys’ jokes, larry played along
wanting attention, of any kind, from his classmates

teachers and the principal tried their best
to stop the boys’ malicious pranks
they were given detention
notes were sent home to their parents
nothing stopped them

sometimes problems solve themselves
that happened in larry’s case
one day, during morning recess
the boys convinced larry to remove his clothes
and run naked through the hallway

kids flooded the area
laughing hysterically, as larry emerged from the restroom
and began his first streak
he forced a smile
but his embarassment was obvious

then it happened
larry suddenly turned around, facing the boys
their laughter stopped abruptly
as they beheld, by far, the largest penis
any of them had ever seen in their lives
bigger even than their fathers’

the principal rushed to larry’s aid
covering him with his suitcoat
larry seemed grateful for the help
but pleaded with the boys to keep laughing
their laughter made him feel a part of them

after the streaking incident
the boys’ pranks and teasing stopped immediately
and for some reason
the girls suddenly took a liking to larry

Note: True story from my childhood. Names changed
to protect the innocent. Ok, I embellished just a little.