Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Mother, was that you?
And was I only 5 years old
when it happened?
Were you the woman
who abandoned me
at the Multnomah County Courthouse?
"I want to put this boy up for adoption."
And was it me who begged you
not to leave me?
Was that my rage swelling up
from my gut
and knotting in my tiny fists?
And is that quiver in my pen now
from fingering an old wound?
Is that dreamlike ache and rush of fear now
a bridge stretching back 25 years?
How was I to know you were crazy?
How was I to know
you were not responsible?
Did you know I hated you?
And when you finally got me back
I considered you a stranger?
And was that me 25 years later
that the Multnomah County Court
appointed your legal guardian?
And did you know
that I felt a tinge of revenge
for only a second?
Did you know that my rage
and knifed feelings were absent?
Did you know that as the deputy
guided you by the elbow
out of the courtroom
and to the psychiatric hospital
that all I felt was love
and sadness
like nothing I have known?

Copyright 2008 David Elsey

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I woke too early
and clearly
I wasn't getting back to sleep.
So I walked to work too early.
Then I was at work too early,
and sat in the lunchroom alone,
reading the paper.
Soon this room would fill
with my colleagues,
most of them bored, frustrated,
just wanting to go home.
And I thought
I've been at it 19 years,
with 10 more to go.
I sat there wondering
if I could go the distance.
And like a battered boxer,
I rose, went down
to the workroom,
to check the schedule
and see where I started the day.

Copyright 2008 David Elsey

Saturday, May 3, 2008


Great men and women
never do it for themselves,
it is always for us.
Like Emily Dickinson
writing poems
in the quiet privacy
of her Amherst house,
unkown her whole life
never knowing
the difference she would make.
They do it so we can get up
each fucking morning,
or dust the living room
some Sunday afternoon
in the middle of November.
They do it because
if they didn't
they would die,
and so would we.

Copyright 2008 David Elsey

Friday, May 2, 2008


I would call on you
at your parent's house in Amherst.
We would talk
of wanting God
but not quite believing,
of fear and despair,
joy and beauty.
And I would
revel at your soul
on display.
And if you died
before me
I would always have
your poems,
and any day
your soul would walk again.

Copyright 2008 David Elsey

Thursday, May 1, 2008


As I get older
time speeds by,
a week like a day,
a day like an hour,
and so on.
I remember those eternal summers
as a kid,
those eternal school years,
the eternity
the month before Christmas.
I remember one summer day
as a boy,
when nothing happened
except me drinking a Coca Cola
behind Lou's Market
with death a million miles away.

Copyright 2008 David Elsey