My earliest memory—grasping that hard,
black rock in the toe of my stocking after
being thrilled by a dozen—baubles. Dad’s
poker-faced grin. Did you get everything?
Back in. Excited. What’s this? A lump of

Coal! Giver of toys reminding me, Dad said,
that I’d been “just a little bit” bad. Suddenly
I saw my Self. Like that little girl with a curl
I could be Horrid. Unto me a Superego was
born. Ignited by a lump of coal. Dad called it


David Alpaugh lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where he teaches literature at California State University, East Bay and at the University of California, Berkeley Extension. His poetry appears in more than 100 journals and he has been a finalist for Poet Laureate of California.