At 13, banished from home
he learned not to trust.
Brilliant, he doubted his brilliance,
and crept downstairs to grab exam results
before others. To no one’s surprise
but his, he had topped the University.

That was the pattern of his childhood.
Adult, he learned to cook
—”Onions are done when pale cockroach color.”
and continued to study—rocks—Granite, Mica, Basalt,
Igneous, Anthracite, Crystalline—annealed or molten
they were all diamonds to him.

Sinking into their impervious depths
he could ignore the taunts of “Brown
Nigger—go home”; the Berkeley riots;
the marches for Civil Rights.
A brief love for JFK was sniped short
—”Never care or trust too much—It hurts.”

Deep within, the lonely, frightened,
wistful, hopeful boy remained.
A love of poetry, of theater endured.
Perhaps that is why he dreamed
of fireflies lighting his life’s dark night
and named me one.