I sometimes use my children as a barometer to gauge whether my short poems work. They are the most honest critics, naturally, both generous and harsh. Here is a short meditation on the kind of poetry I do and do not want to write.
I want poems my children can read
not some tortured thing to go down in history
like some curio or cadaver to be examined
or a rusted car in a junkyard with its hood up
and a gaping hole where the engine once roared.
See the bear in the birch thicket moving on all fours,
self-possessed, hungry, wanting to be left alone,
yet curious of all things, sniffing the air,
discerning danger and subtle aromas,
pheromones, flowers and the stench of autos
in the happy distance. This animal is tall and robust
beside the stream, squints at the next hill
and the mountain after, discerns not by sight
but by sense a new way where danger
and adventure are with him like breathing.