loyalty among cranes

•March 23, 2012 • Leave a Comment

they could not even fathom to leave anyone behind
they are patient with their young

they carried their wounded
they share a fragile fate of legs like sticks

they are brothers and sisters

everyone belongs to the same sky
and every name counts

their roll calls are thorough
even a failed pirouette deserves applause


the bone of it

•March 3, 2012 • Leave a Comment

the males get on each other’s beaks

cranes can get very political during elections

thinking that this will impress their women


the female simply stands

her long leg firm on the ground


even when the eggs break and the children have flown away


her long leg rising from the ground

all the way to the heart


the leg

the bone of it

cranes of buenos aires

•February 18, 2012 • Leave a Comment

in buenos aires when they are in love
cranes put their wings around each other’s waist
and dance the tango like it was their last day on earth

you should see them perched on the cadence of their passion
the way their feathers almost glow in their stillness
and how their cheeks press softly against each other

when the music ends and every car lights up the sky
of buenos aires only the warm shell of their hatched eggs
tells you that love south of the equator is an endangered specie

graceful and fragile
un tango pájaro

why cranes dance

•February 16, 2012 • Leave a Comment

i think of their thin legs and wonder
what strong conviction might have them
stand up without the smallest hint of justification
for how they’ve chosen to live their lives

such feathered bodies suspended on stilts!
such disregard for what we may be thinking of them!

the sign states that their dance is part of mating
i think they dance because they learned to love themselves

an ethics of love among birds

•February 15, 2012 • 1 Comment

to stand on legs so thin is an act of heroism
perhaps that’s why they’re born with wings

but to love is to mate
and to mate is to stay and
to stay is to elect the dignity of staying

it all comes down to choosing
where your life is meant to hatch

choosing the risks
choosing your thin legs

atlas’s wife

•January 24, 2012 • Leave a Comment

my grandmother lived across the convent school

where anyone catholic sent their girls to learn

the docility required to bear one child after the other

that was the place that taught my mother

to be a woman

that was the tattered map her mother offered

to have her find her calling

her joy

the final shape she had to take

to appease the dark

my mother was my father’s muse

recipient of his brooding

atlas’ wife

he kneeled under the world

and she stood before him

the weight he bore became

the heft she carried

my father treaded the waters of his nature

my mother wept exhausted

after saving the world

all by herself

happy faces

•July 30, 2010 • Leave a Comment

for my three sons until they don’t need this anymore

this moment

might seem endless and


and we have

only you and

I to repair it

i want to make you

laugh but

it’s too late

or maybe too soon

let us not draw happy faces

on each other

let us have crying

when we have to

you need to learn about the world

and i’m prepared to be the world

until it finds you

mar del plata

•July 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

for my father

my father dove with such elegance

that people would notice

i know they did

i’d pay attention to that

as we walked back on the warm sand to our towels

i could not contain my joy

this was my father

a poem for my son

•December 8, 2009 • 5 Comments

today something with a mean streak i guess ripped his tenderness apart

the first hole the rain will find its way to the edge of and seep drop by drop its way into his heart

he’ll feel as deeply and secretly as an underground river and will still be kind


the truth is i don’t know my son i know the boy but not the man the young man anyway who speaks to me on the phone but if you were on the other end you’d hear that he was present to his life and austere in his descriptions

and in pain too

about people not being what he thought or the disappointment always at the door of a friend down a failed path

when we speak this time or any i’m the dog that stands between the world and my son and i will show my teeth

all of it becomes for me the logistics of assuring that my boy is safe and i forget the man on the line who wants the blessing of his father

so we spoke today again and i told him what i’m telling you and i apologized and he told me that he loved me

we blessed each other

and hung up the phone

The Cultivation Of An Articulate Heart

•April 12, 2009 • 3 Comments

BH Fairchild break apart the myth that beauty lives in certain places, well, that life has its moments, its high marks but not always. For him, beauty it’s a relationship, it’s you willing to be intimate with the place and the moment you are in.

Many business and community leaders I know would benefit greatly from learning his gift for engaging and touching the reader, a sum of deep insight, and beautiful and immediate narrative. Where urgency, nostalgia and what needs to be said—good, bad news, warn or praise—comes together in stirring speech.

“Body and Soul,” the poem I chose from his book “The Art of Lathe, has that depth of presence and immediate appeal to those who are listening.

What I know about life and leadership has made one lesson very clear: words, its thoughtful use, a love for them, their conscientious applications are essential to making a better world. In that cosmic scale, somewhere you and I fit, having to communicate every day, influencing certain people and events, leading an organization through difficult times, making sense of what of whatever work we were chosen to do, most of our lives.

In a time of when it seems to be no time, where efficiency has been elevated to cult status and our work becomes more and more virtual challenging the very nature of what make us connect, Fairchild reminds us to honor those who work in the noisy anonymity of interminable assembly lines and machine shops.

This poem is about men who have experienced the very dread of repetition and the certainty that it may never change. Men anchored to a fate not always of their making.

As far as I’m concerned, this is a treatise as understanding our fellow man, careful observation as a form of praise.  A manual on soul-making, forged from unsentimental yet passionate words. A lesson on cultivating one’s heart in the midst of a mistreated sandlot and the promise of baseball.

I think a leader, much like a poet, is someone who chooses to surrender to his or her life, someone who knows not everyone will want to listen but commits to say what must be said. Like a cannary to the conditions in the mine, always attentive to its song.


Body and Soul

Half-numb, guzzling bourbon and Coke from coffee mugs,
our fathers fall in love with their own stories, nuzzling
the facts but mauling the truth, and my friend’s father begins
to lay out with the slow ease of a blues ballad a story
about sandlot baseball in Commerce, Oklahoma decades ago.
These were men’s teams, grown men, some in their thirties
and forties who worked together in zinc mines or on oil rigs,
sweat and khaki and long beers after work, steel guitar music
whanging in their ears, little white rent houses to return to
where their wives complained about money and broken Kenmores
and then said the hell with it and sang Body and Soul
in the bathtub and later that evening with the kids asleep
lay in bed stroking their husband’s wrist tattoo and smoking
Chesterfields from a fresh pack until everything was O.K.
Well, you get the idea. Life goes on, the next day is Sunday,
another ball game, and the other team shows up one man short.
They say, we’re one man short, but can we use this boy,
he’s only fifteen years old, and at least he’ll make a game.
They take a look at the kid, muscular and kind of knowing
the way he holds his glove, with the shoulders loose,
the thick neck, but then with that boy’s face under
a clump of angelic blonde hair, and say, oh, hell, sure,
let’s play ball. So it all begins, the men loosening up,
joking about the fat catcher’s sex life, it’s so bad
last night he had to hump his wife, that sort of thing,
pairing off into little games of catch that heat up into
throwing matches, the smack of the fungo bat, lazy jogging
into right field, big smiles and arcs of tobacco juice,
and the talk that gives a cool, easy feeling to the air,
talk among men normally silent, normally brittle and a little
angry with the empty promise of their lives. But they chatter
and say rock and fire, babe, easy out, and go right ahead
and pitch to the boy, but nothing fancy, just hard fastballs
right around the belt, and the kid takes the first two
but on the third pops the bat around so quick and sure
that they pause a moment before turning around to watch
the ball still rising and finally dropping far beyond
the abandoned tractor that marks left field. Holy shit.
They’re pretty quiet watching him round the bases,
but then, what the hell, the kid knows how to hit a ball,
so what, let’s play some goddamned baseball here.
And so it goes. The next time up, the boy gets a look
at a very nifty low curve, then a slider, and the next one
is the curve again, and he sends it over the Allis Chalmers,
high and big and sweet. The left field just stands there, frozen.
As if this isn’t enough, the next time up he bats left-handed.
They can’t believe it, and the pitcher, a tall, mean-faced
man from Okarche who just doesn’t give a shit anyway
because his wife ran off two years ago leaving him with
three little ones and a rusted-out Dodge with a cracked block,
leans in hard, looking at the fat catcher like he was the sonofabitch
who ran off with his wife, leans in and throws something
out of the dark, green hell of forbidden fastballs, something
that comes in at the knees and then leaps viciously towards
the kid’s elbow. He swings exactly the way he did right-handed
and they all turn like a chorus line toward deep right field
where the ball loses itself in sagebrush and the sad burnt
dust of dustbowl Oklahoma. It is something to see.
But why make a long story long: runs pile up on both sides,
the boy comes around five times, and five times the pitcher
is cursing both God and His mother as his chew of tobacco sours
into something resembling horse piss, and a ragged and bruised
Spalding baseball disappears into the far horizon. Goodnight,
Irene. They have lost the game and some painful side bets
and they have been suckered. And it means nothing to them
though it should to you when they are told the boy’s name is
Mickey Mantle. And that’s the story, and those are the facts.
But the facts are not the truth. I think, though, as I scan
the faces of these old men now lost in the innings of their youth,
it lying there in the weeds behind that Allis Chalmers
just waiting for the obvious question to be asked: why, oh
why in hell didn’t they just throw around the kid, walk him,
after he hit the third homer? Anybody would have,
especially nine men with disappointed wives and dirty socks
and diminishing expectations for whom winning at anything
meant everything. Men who knew how to play the game,
who had talent when the other team had nothing except this ringer
who without a pitch to hit was meaningless, and they could go home
with their little two-dollar side bets and stride into the house
singing If You’ve Got the Money, Honey, I’ve Got the Time
with a bottle of Southern Comfort under their arms and grab
Dixie or May Ella up and dance across the gray linoleum
as if it were V-Day all over again. But they did not
And they did not because they were men, and this was a boy.
And they did not because sometimes after making love,
after smoking their Chesterfields in the cool silence and
listening to the big bands on the radio that sounded so glamorous,
so distant, they glanced over at their wives and noticed the lines
growing heavier around the eyes and mouth, felt what their wives
felt: that Les Brown and Glenn Miller and all those dancing couples
and in fact all possibility of human gaiety and light-heartedness
were as far away and unreachable as Times Square or the Avalon
ballroom. They did not because of the gray linoleum lying there
in the half-dark, the free calendar from the local mortuary
that said one day was pretty much like another, the work gloves
looped over the doorknob like dead squirrels. And they did not
because they had gone through a depression and a war that had left
them with the idea that being a man in the eyes of their fathers
and everyone else had cost them just too goddamn much to lay it
at the feet of a fifteen year-old-boy. And so they did not walk him,
and lost, but at least had some ragged remnant of themselves
to take back home. But there is one thing more, though it is not
a fact. When I see my friend’s father staring hard into the bottomless
well of home plate as Mantle’s fifth homer heads toward Arkansas,
I know that this man with the half-orphaned children and
worthless Dodge has also encountered for the first and possibly
only time the vast gap between talent and genius, has seen
as few have in the harsh light of an Oklahoma Sunday, the blonde
and blue-eyed bringer of truth, who will not easily be forgiven.

B.H. Fairchild