TWO POEMS by Jared Harél

/ / Issue 18


       (after Joseph O. Legaspi & Larry Levis)

Mother and smother are such similar words,
I can’t help but wonder if it’s by coincidence
or design. Same goes, I suppose, 
for father and farther, though I’ve tried with my kids 
to be present and knowable, no flicker
of myth, but like a Midwestern turnpike 
lapped in steady light. Last night, my mom called
to tell me I don’t call her, though I could tell
through the cellphone that each line 
was rehearsed. I could tell she was parked 
outside Pathmark or Foodtown while my father 
practiced takeoffs out of Republic Airport— 
his pale Cirrus curling the traffic-
controlled skies. Last night, my son beat my ass
in UNO—a barrage of prime numbers 
and primary colors, then a Wild + 4
put me to bed. Not bad for a four-year old
who sleeps cat-like across our pillows 
to nuzzle the fantasia of my wife’s midnight hair 
while I get skull-stomped by tiny bare feet. 
How will my subconscious calculate 
these improprieties? My father, a good man, 
flies farther from me daily. We see each other
the way a field spots a peregrine  
migrating south. My mother left me
another voicemail today. In UNO, the objective
is to be free of all cards, to detach 
from the very contours of the game—but I remember 
after he won and yelped quietly with delight, 
how my son’s small hands pressed
the scattered cards together, both together 
and towards me to reshuffle the deck. 





When my daughter turned seven,
she missed being six. 

She didn’t want, she said,
to leave her old self behind. 

And I, who had turned seven, 
then eight, and many more, 

sat on the edge
of her warm twin bed 

and said, you take it  
all with you, you bring all 

your selves with you 
into the future. I don’t know

what I believe, but I think
she believed me. 

I told her nothing is ever lost,
and kept repeating it

till she rose in her nightgown
in the morning dark.