Taught by turtles to teach Turtles…


Cold and not cold nor all the way past…
Like, I remember praying to a maker, my
bedroom in Norwalk…and a plaything moving
under a bed.

Spread across the ceiling playing like a movie,
was a stack of photographs being flipped
through and animating and acting out
something my grandfather had done.

Marvelous crayons drew stick figures on
my walls, and I talked to imaginary people for
the rest of that night, and sadly I can barley
recall what any of them said.


There was a trick I used when my father
took a belt and beat me – because there was
no where to hide outside, I learned to hide
inside like a turtle.

I was the turtles turtle, flesh inside shell
barely aware that an angry man was abusing
my body, I went on vacation, and have just
recently returned.

Nothing can bury my spirit. No one is in
charge of my heart. I can not be defeated,
and I no longer wear the shell my father or
his father wore.


My arms – my glorious arms and my vigor…
and the grace and dignity of ten thousand
generations (the monkeys and the men,
and my dear mother lit candles,

and held vigils, and vesper sang until the
spider tree withered in flames) And now I
remember that the cover of darkness was
just a blanket I used to keep warm.

I am the seed of old men and women angels,
and all that came before me speaks clearly
through me to my children and says – “We love
you – go now, and teach the other turtles…”


11 responses to “Taught by turtles to teach Turtles…

  1. i feel inept to comment. this is so powerful and well written. yeah…i was a turtle too. thank you for this.

  2. Astonishing, your best to date. It is so clear, so ringing, so true……and heartbreaking, yes. The way you have used language here, it transcends — both the experience and the recounting, it becomes something aside from the turtle boy (what a metaphor that), something aside from a poem……..beautiful, Poetman, if beauty can be found here (yes, in you, because I’m assuming it’s autobiographical, which is wrong of me, but).

    and my dear mother lit candles,

    and held vigils, and vesper sang until the
    spider tree withered in flames)

    this rearranged me.

  3. Biography of an ethos, this… a chronicle of the pains experienced in the exercise of the acquisition of knowledge. Art imitates life, it would seem… beautiful, Poetman.

  4. Meander – Please feel free to be ept in your own experience and the expression of it. Thank You

    JO – Thank you for your graciousness – really very nice of you to write…and I might add that your assumptions about the autobiographical nature are spot on..It was I…

    Bob – “Biography of an ethos…” I like that…Thank You…

  5. poetman
    yes it seems at the time we are the only turtle on earth and it isn’t until much older we cast the shell away–if, at only arms length. good piece.

  6. Tragic this lesson learned is carried by the memories of childhood. Heart wrenching story of survival. Your words honor truth, for the hidden child!

    Hugs Giggles

  7. poseidonsmuse

    So glad that I decided to jump off of my basking log and dive into my favourite waters this morning PM. Thankfully, I poked my head out of my glistening shell long enough to absorb the power of these incredible words. I am glad that you never *really* stopped blogging PM. I think this little corner of the Turtle pond would be a very lonely place without you.

    Your friend,
    Trachemys scripta elegans (the Muse)

  8. excellent, excellent, excellent. For me, this reads something like Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Land of Counterpane”, in an inverted world, there are other stuff it reminds me of, because this is broadly the kind of thing i love, but ultimately its all your own, and drawing comparisons is unhelpful and boring.

    It is dark, true, magical but also real, and reads immaculately. It exists in a series of places, breathes in various atnospheres, without losing cohesion. One of the most satisfying and rewarding things I have read online in a while. Ends in such a peaceful place, after all those storms. Oh, yes. You might have gathered that I rather like this. 🙂

  9. Scot, Thank you – but does older always make for wiser…mmm…

    giggles, Thank you so much…and it is for good reason should ever a child hide…although it is a pity that they ever find the need to do so…

    poseidonsmuse, Thank you for coming, this pond is wide and the fishing is great too. Peace.

    peterandthehare, Incredible – your words and commendation – these I will remember for a very long time…

    Thank You All

  10. One of your strongest. One of your most honest. Raw and impacting images.

  11. Nina –

    …and if the words, these inadequate scribbles, might find a place – act as a sort of kindness towards other turtles, then perhaps it is worth, the having gone through it all, to have come out the other side, a free man…


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