A Secret

Down by the county road

Playing little boy games

Waiting for the school bus

My son looks up and says,


“I want to tell you something,”

I lean down so he can

whisper it in my ear:

Then, “I hate you, Daddy.”


Just to taste the words come out

Just to watch the knife go in

Just to watch my face change

As I feel it.


So don’t tell me that we

Can make it if we try

Because he’s just like his daddy

And his daddy’s just like his.

Thanksgiving 2018

For the shape that things have taken
For the bending of our days
From the place we were forsaken
To the place our heads are laid

For what all the ravens brought
For the bread that wouldn’t last
For the water from the rock
For the wandering that’s passed

For the scroll that tasted sweet
Then turned to sour halfway down
For how we are made complete
By being buried, burnt, or drowned

For a tale we couldn’t write
The verse we can’t compose
For a love we couldn’t fight
For however this thing goes,

We give you thanks, oh Lord.

Just a reminder

That I also do a podcast where I read these poems and answer questions about them. If that’s something that sounds at all interesting to you, you can find them here, the episodes tagged “Intentional Stuttering With Mike Bonikowsky”.

Maranatha In September

Oh won’t You come back
And show us, Your children
How we’re all wrong
How we’re alright.

Oh won’t You come back
Put an end to this recess
Take the sticks from the bullies
Wipe the tears from our eyes

Oh won’t You come back
And teach us to share
Rightly dividing the cookies and juice
The hats, the mittens, and the boots.

Oh won’t you come back
And make us say sorry
End the calling of all names
Save the one on the stone.

Oh won’t You come back
and say the day’s over
Let the bell ring that says
That it’s time to go home.

Accessibility Gate

They say you shouldn’t stare

At those who look different

And everyone did

Who came to the Gate Seven,


Images minted like

Coins of other nations

Than that of those lined up

At all the other gates.


And people stared as

Their difference, so marked,

Joined with the rest of us

With differences unseen.


But as they passed the Gate,

I saw a miracle:

Saw difference disappear,

As for an afternoon


All our wealth was mingled.

All us coins together

A stadium filled with

Every kind of treasure.


Their faces lost among

The faces in the crowd

Sunlit, squinting to see

How far a ball can go.


They say you shouldn’t stare

But how can you not stare

At the most lovely thing

Your eyes have ever seen?

Evening News

When the kids are in their beds,

I sit on the porch and look

To where the gods are warring

Just over the horizon.


See their distant lightnings

Silent, scar the southern sky

Too far to be heard, but I

Feel a tremor pass beneath.


When the chill sets I turn

Back to book, and mug, and chair

To a house so deeply still

I can hear the children breathe.


But when I lie in bed at last

To surrender to the night

Lightning flickers on the wall

And the tremor follows it.


Love, to you, is laying siege,

So you ring your armies round

The citadel that is my heart,

Triple-walled and Byzantine.


So hurl yourself upon my walls

Day after day, unceasingly

Until every son and daughter’s spent

Against the cruelty of my gates.


All my treaties are rejected

All compromise is scorned

Your terms are simple:

Joyful surrender, or the sword.


But I am old in love and war

And hold the secret you can’t guess:

That by the breaching of the heart

All you hoped to hold is slain.