Poetry from J.K. Durick

Family Tree

This time of year I envy the treeless families

Their empty yards, dying and dead grass

Waiting for the winter coming on and

Spring not far behind

But us tree families spend our time trying

To clean up after our family tree

Our ancestry, its ancestry on display

So there we are, rake in hand

Piling up the debris left behind by just being

Being there

My family tree with its high branches

We like to look up to, and

Some low branches, so low I need to

Bend almost in half to get by

And then there’s that part we’ve cut away

Over the years, a regular bald spot looming

Larger and larger

Something I’ve inherited, like trembling hands

And these malformed feet

This time of year, walking backward raking up

Conjuring up connections to this

Mysterious ancestry, piles of leaves

So much to clean up


I envy treeless families.

                        Leafmeal Lie

At 10:06 this morning a leaf fell from the maple

Out front. Saw it from the couch, looking out

The storm door. It fell, it floated down ending

Its season, its cycle on the ground under its tree.

It must have started like the others, a bud-like

Growth, the kind squirrels will eat in the Spring,

But it survived, grew, felt all the Summer heat

And the drought, the wind, the heavy downpours

And then this Fall weather, the chill, the falling

Away of its many companions. Then at 10:06

This morning it ended its cycle, its seasons, it fell

Floated to the ground to await its fate. Perhaps

It will be the mower turning it to mulch with

The rest, or maybe it will blow up the street, mix

With other leaves, get raked, get bagged, get

Carried off and composted miles from here, miles

Away from its tree. Or it could just blend in, lie

Flat, avoid all of my attempts to get rid of it, and

Then lie flat as it gets colder, begins to snow, and

Spends the Winter wet, frozen under the snow

Till Spring returns – and I’ll be sitting here on this

Couch looking out the screen door, waiting for

Something else as momentous to happen.


No need for an alarm anymore

Or any of the other sounds that

Used to wake me: the sound of

My sons getting ready for school

Or my wife crashing away, trying

To fix our world before heading

Off to fix the world of her work.

No I don’t need any of those any-

More, this morning I woke up to

Leg cramps. My left shin, or was

It my right cramped into a pain

Strong enough to wake me, get

Me up hobbling around the room

Hoping to end it, to satisfy what-

Ever imbalance that set it off. It

Worked, I was up and the cramp

Toned down enough to walk on.

It was morning and I was up for

The day, without an alarm or any

Of the other distractions that played

That role. Online they say that my

Cramps are common for aging adults

And athletes. Never was an athlete

So I fall into that fifty percent of sixty

Plus year-olds who suffer these cramps.

It’s good to know I fit into the statistics

With about half of my group. I’d like to

Picture a chart somewhere, some med

School showing the percent and perhaps

A diagram of an aging cramped shin

Waking an aging adult instead of his clock.