Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

Archive for the tag “escape”


A family
may have
its own unique warning
to save one
from what nature or nurture
combined to produce.

Ours was simple:
If you drink,
you die.

My uncle
was justifiably
marked as Cain,
but all that he shattered
was tidily
swept away.

My aunt found herself
in a position
impossible to
her gentle spirit
was no match
for the bottles
strategically placed.

My brother was wild
as the wind
with a temper
that knew no end
or solace.

Who would
have imagined
as she rose to the top
that the punches
thrown at my cousin
would have finally
knocked her out?

I lie now
my body
like a beached
my face jaundiced,
but my red eyes
still show their

The Pet Shop

Having an aquarium meant going somewhere to get our fish. It must have been the only place nearby. Otherwise, it makes no sense why we went there.

The pet shop was a one-floor brick structure all alone on a corner surrounded by thick forest. Lest you think my own backyard was slack in this regards, besides the numerous oak, maple, and cottonwood trees, there was a wonderful willow that always struck a pose somewhere between mourning and supplication, a birch whose bark was second to none, and huge pine trees that at Christmas time were hung with lights that took forever to be untangled. There were lots of squirrels and chipmunks, all sorts of birds and not just sparrows, blackbirds, robins, and bossy blue jays. Once we even spotted what we were convinced was an Ivory-billed Woodpecker but probably was just a Pileated Woodpecker. Which is which, by the way?

800px-Ivory-billed_Woodpecker_by_Jerry_A._Payne(Photographers: Arthur A. Allen and Jerry A. Payne)

PileatedWoodpeckerFeedingonTree(Photographer: Joshlamon)

Raccoons occasionally peered from above, and at nights, sometimes, overturned garbage cans.

800px-Raccoon_female(Photographer:  Gordon E. Robertson)

Salamanders hid in leaves, and deer every so often would grace us with their presence.

But on that windy back road to the pet shop, it was as if you’d taken a detour and were smack dab in the middle of nowhere.


It was always dark despite the eerie light that came from row after row of aquariums that were seldom if ever cleaned. There was also a terrible smell that made my relatives’ cattle ranch resemble the latest Fendi fragrance. Various birds sat perched in rusty cages, the floors of which were covered with a sandpaper-like material that was always splattered.

We tried to make the experience as painless as possible and were fairly successful in this regard, my usual indecisiveness suddenly conquered by my even stronger sense of smell.

After a quick tour of the tiny, claustrophobic establishment we were in possession of several baggies filled to bursting with water.

The owner, a short unshaven man, went about slowly punching the keys of the cash register, having difficulty making out the numbers despite his reading glasses. He reeked of tobacco and this in an era when nearly everyone smoked, which might be, if you are willing to accept the latest quackery coming out of the medical profession, a sign of mental illness.

After taking our cash, he began to talk to us about the Good Shepherd. My father, who despite his Catholic upbringing was not religious but infinitely patient, nodded his head as the man rambled on, and we made our escape. While leaps and bounds was what we would have preferred, slow backward steps are what were taken.

We were relieved to be outside and able to take deep breaths of fresh air.

“Does a good shepherd take care of his sheep?” my dad asked.

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