Sleeping In The Crack

By Ken Haas


For a time in first grade
I had what they then called school refusal.
Mostly because Mrs. Karasick
locked me in the chalk closet for two hours
over a point about French Impressionism
that I had disputed.

My father made up a song for me to sing
on the way to P.S. 152 which started
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to school we go….
We practiced it every evening in the mirror
until I could see that I was smiling.
And I sang it, leaving home.

At night sometimes I woke to what were surely
Soviet airplanes buzzing the Bronx
and sought safety in my parents’ room.
They had separate double beds
joined by two large steel clips
hooked to the hardwood frames,
separate sheets but a single blanket
so they had something to bicker about
even while unconscious.

They were dangerous in different ways
so I burrowed under the blanket,
wedged myself into the one-inch doorway
between the beds, and slept.

Years later someone told me
that the adult I had become
could go back and rescue that boy,
be what he needed.

But even then I had Simo’s pizza,
a Moose Skowron glove,
Janie Siegel next door,

who told me there were kids
with nowhere. Not even a crack.
And no song to sing.

Ken Haas was born in New York City; went to college, law school, and business school at Harvard University; and received an MA in English literature at the University of Sussex, U.K., where he wrote a thesis on Wallace Stevens and the “poetry of place.”  Ken now lives in San Francisco where he is a partner in a healthcare venture capital firm.  An avid skier, bike rider, yoga practitioner, and volunteer, he has created (and continue to sponsor) a weekly poetry writing program at UCSF Children's Hospital, which employs two poet-teachers from California Poets in the Schools.  Ken’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Alabama Literary Review, Caesura, CHEST Journal, Forge, Freshwater, Hawai’i Pacific Review, Helix, Natural Bridge, Pigsah Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Schuylkill Valley Journal Of The Arts, Squaw Valley Review, Stickman Review, Tattoo Highway, and Wild Violet. His poetry has been anthologized in The Place That Inhabits Us (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2010) and the Marin Poetry Center Anthology (2012).  Ken has participated in the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, studied with Bob Hass, Brenda Hillman, Dean Young, Lucille Clifton, and C.D. Wright, as well as numerous other workshops led by Sharon Olds, Dorianne Laux, Joe Millar, Ellen Bass, and Richard Jones. 

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