FALLING | Larry Oakner
The first fall I remember
a kid at a playground asked me if I wanted The Whip while I was hanging
from the swinging rings, grabbing my ankles he snapped my body
Trapezing me over the sandbox where I landed
upside down on my bent neck
He could have broken my spine.
Later I fell in front of Penn Station running for a train in the rain
My legs slid out from under me and I skidded on my shoulder
Along a slick wet grate while crowds passed around me
Checking my clothes for tears, my ribs for pain
A young Black guy stopped and asked, “Are you all right, Father?”
Last year while walking in Puerto Vallarta along the River Quale
A bunch of boys were knocking around a soccer ball that rolled in my path
Kicking it back to them my balance went off and I spun around, hit the ground
Just missing the little shop tables, rolling away with only a scratch
And I jumped up like a gymnast arms raised in victory.
My grandfather whom I never met moved West
Met with financial reversals that tipped him over to the dark side of his life
So he jumped off a building in downtown LA, falling three floors to the sidewalk
Head trauma the death certificate said
I wonder how it felt to fall on purpose?
Larry Oakner’s poems have appeared recently in Tricycle: Buddhist News, PROVOKR.com, The Shambhala Times, The Jewish Literary Review, Lost Coast Review, Home Planet News, and Mystic Nebula. Earlier, his work appeared in Mobius, Long Island Quarterly, CCAR Journal, Jewish Spectator, Kerem, SPSM&H, and MARILYN. He is also the author of a chapbook, Sitting Still, and his essays on poets Jack Spicer and William Carlos Williams appeared in Manroot and Thoth: Graduate Studies in English (Syracuse University). Oakner has a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from UCLA, and works as a branding consultant in New York City.