Sad To Be a Child

Hot off the presses, this poem which appears in California Quarterly, Vol 43, Number 3 (2017), p. 45. You can order a copy at


Sad to be a child.
However hard one watches,
branches never grasp the clouds,

stuff which drifts like moods
and slips between the crotches.
Sad to be a child

whose play becomes to brood
within a brushwood fortress
where branches never grasp the clouds,

whims are driven as if scuds
and wishes come in snatches.
Sad to be a child

in a copse where dream eludes
the anxious reach that clutches.
Branches never grasp the clouds

just encompass solitude
until someone approaches.
Sad to be a child.
Branches never grasp the clouds.


Notionally a French poetic form, the villanelle has been thoroughly nativized into English. Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night”, Theodore Roethke’s “The Waking” and Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art” are among the best known and loved.