David J. Rothman


Seven-Year-Old Boys on Vacation

Let the running and the jumping start.
Let the cannonballs resound in pools.
Let there be pure silence in the schools
They have abandoned for a different art.

Let there be a twisting of the rules.
Let there be a joke about a fart
So big it blew an elephant apart.
Let the parents carry stuff like mules.

They’re playing tetherball with baseball bats!
They’re jumping filthy naked on the couch!
They’re breaking almost everything they touch!
They’re tying tin cans to the tails of cats!

They do not walk, but bolt, tear, dart, dash, crouch.
They’ve lost their sneakers and they’ve lost their hats.
The worst word that they know so far is “Rats!”
They’re stung, they’re scratched, they’re bitten, they cry “Ouch!”

They say the reason you should dig a hole
Is that one isn’t there; that rocks were made
For throwing, water squirting; lemonade
Is actually a vegetable; the goal

Of dirt is rugs, bugs death; that second grade
Will never come. They study to cajole
A mother out of one more sticky roll,
A father out of bucks for the dark arcade.

All sticks are arrows, clubs, wands, sabers, spears,
And a banana is a blaster gun.
Explosions in which people die are fun.
Most things they like have bullets, teeth, or gears.

They have been poisoned by ten hours of sun.
Their brains are disconnected from their ears.
They’re superheroes who have nighttime fears.
They do not understand what’s done is done,

Until, in an integrity so deep
That it transcends the perfect worlds of play,
Their gorgeous, savage eyelids droop, they say
Nothing, they sigh, they slow, they stop. They sleep.

So crash. Forget about a roll in the hay.
Conserve your energy. The night won’t keep.
Besides, you’ve done your sowing. Time to reap.
And soon, so soon, another splendid day

Begins… the running and the jumping start…

David J. Rothman has published many volumes of poetry and prose. In 2019 he won a Pushcart Prize for the poem “Kernels,” which originally appeared in The New Criterion. He splits his time between Salt Lake City and Crested Butte, Colorado and continues to try to find the humor in every approaching apocalypse.