when he was just a tiny tot,

crawling on hands and knees,

he chafed at being in a pen,

and ached to  be set free.

not too much longer until he knew

how to unlatch the kitchen door,

and to the backyard he would run,

but that soon became a bore–

for it was fenced, the fence was high,

he longed to be set free,

and soon he learned how he could climb

up the tallest back yard tree;

From there he could see quite far–

to the corner of the street–

Where the big kids walked to school–

He thought that would  be neat;

But when he started going to school,

he found it not enough,

besides, the children at he school,

sometimes played quite rough;

His parents bought him a brand new bike,

he rode it around the block,

but he couldn’t go across the street,

and soon began to balk;

He wanted more, he wanted far,

As far as he could go,

He got a taste of freedom

and his parents couldn’t know

Just how far and wide he ranged,

Nobody really knew–

Far beyond his neighborhood,

His wanderlust just grew;

There wasn’t much he didn’t try,

stealing drugs and booze,

he didn’t care whose lives he ruined,

there was nothing he could lose;

He got in trouble with the law

and ended up; in  jail.

sick and weak and broken down,

The end of freedom’s trail.

*This was about my oldest son, Michael. There were many isolated incidents when he was very small and that should have alerted us–he was running away from home by the time he was eleven, always coming back and sneaking through the doggy door to get inside, to raid the pantry and my purse.  He got expelled from all the junior high schools around us and when he and a neighbor boy were about thirteen, they went downtown to a bad section of Los Angeles, looking for “black kids to beat up” the junior officer who released them to me said they were lucky they didn’t get killed; that they had no idea what they were dealing with. Michael abused any and all relationships with friends or older people; we know he stole his 3rd grade teachers engagement ring but it was never found  and despite all pleas, he claimed to know nothing about it. It was never found.

A little boy who lived on Crowley who had befriended him got  ‘talked out’ of the child’s collection of Blue Chip stamp books*. I remember trying to talk to him at that time, saying “Michael if you cheat and abuse every friendship you make, someday you won’t have any friends and there        won’t be anyone around to bail you out”  – he would laugh in my face whenever I tried to tell him any of these things.  Michael died in a hospital in 2011.

*Blue Chip Stamps Books could be redeemed for many different things, including some toys, back then.


Sandra Lee Smith

first posted June 22, 2010

Updated September , 9, 2018


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s