Poems and Poetry

loss poems

Fruitcakes | A Poem by Roy Pullam

We raked the leaves
With our shoes
Like children
On Easter
The same zeal
For finding treasures
Pecans in twos and threes
Where they fell
Beneath the brown
An angry squirrel
Barked his disdain
From the top
Of the tree
We made search circles
Making sure
We covered the circumference
Of the tree
Gathering the nuts
With the knowledge
Of their destiny
When we would
Crack them
Before the grate
Separating the meat
From the shells
Digging reluctant pieces
From the fist
Of the covering
With the pick
Rustling the kernels
Eliminating the shells
That might
Break a tooth
Mother would combine
The different nuts
Adding other ingredient
To make the wonderful
We so enjoyed
Its richness
So great
That no matter
How delicious the taste
One piece
Was all
I could take
How I think
Of that desert
Not matched
By store-bought
Fit only
As door stops
The memory fresh
The promised dried
With the other skills
Of my mother

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Salad Days with Bitter Dressing | A Poem by Roy Pullam

My eyes recorded things
My memory won’t let go
The pain in my father’s eyes
As he fought breathlessness
The hard wheeze
The perspiration
On a winter’s day
The creak of his tired bones
As he lifted
His body from the cane chair
The smell of liniment
He put on his broken back
Healed with too little attention
From the doctor
Who had put him
In the corset
No therapy
No follow-up visit
Left to suffer
The fate of the poor
The halting trudge
Across the yard
As he made his way
To the mailbox
Slow steps
With frequent stops
His chest heaving
As he tried to force
Air between the shiny black
Coal dust
In his lungs
Too old before his time
I do not have warm tales
Of throwing the ball
Taking camping trips
Other children recall
About their fathers
But how I loved him
Always aware
That one day
He would struggle in vain
And the breathe
Would not come

Sugar Maple | A Poem by Roy Pullam

The noble limbs
Had been shelter
For birds and squirrels
The storm claiming
The tree
Helpless in a heap
Pinned to the ground
The leaves waving
A flag of surrender
He worked the pile
The chainsaw
With its aggressive growl
Chewing the wood
One large branch
Then the other
Falling the short distance
To the ground
In a plop
Snatched from its resting place
And put on the flat bed
Of the trailer
Green and brown together
Heading for the decaying mass
The community storm damage
How noble it stood
For fifty years
Shading my kitchen window
In the cold
And the heat
A constant
My leafy place
My quiet place
Where I spent
Many an evenings
Reading a book
Never thinking of the irony
That the fibers
Of the sugar maples
Often made the tracts
My eyes followed
While this one
Was my umbrella
From the evening sun
A stump now
The saw quiet
The last load gone
With just the sadness
For a lost friend

Summer 1957 | A Poem by Roy Pullam

Barker Hill
Had a thunderstorm
Dynamite jarring the ground
Knocking the bottom
From Uncle Ed’s well
Turning the mortar
In his chimney
Into dust
The roar of the big trucks
Night and day
Hauling locally
To Hart’s tipple
It was his home
His refuge
From the people
At the base
Of the hill
But they had brought hell
In the form of explosives
Robbing him of sleep
Wrecking his property
Turning the land
behind him
Into a pit
Poisoning the water
With iron pyrite
A legal strangulation
That would eventually
Force him to sell
To abandon his Eden
Without a look back

RIP Donal Mahoney | A Poem by Roy Pullam

The Irish rebellion
Was always with him
Tales of his father’s imprisonment
At the hands of the British
A family legacy
Raised Irish-Chicago tough
He carried that spirit
That bulwark of right
Firmly on his back
Reinforced by faith
Catholic to his core
Ready to scrap
For church values
Rising above the street
He took the love
Of yarns
As a career
Writing like a pugilist
Searching for the opening
Of truth
And hammering it home
Loving the language
Just like Wilde, Thomas and Yeats
Buffing phrases
Until they shined
With understanding
I will miss
That sharp pen
His sword
He carried with honor