Poems and Poetry

memory poems

Halloween 1957 | A Poem by Roy Pullam

I had no mask
As in so many times
I was forced
To improvise
I rubbed the soot
From the chimney
On my face and neck
Borrowing my father’s bib overalls
Pants that swallowed
My nine year old form
Rolling the legs up
In a giant cuff
I wrapped his shirt
Around my spare body
With his miner’s hat
I was ready
To join my friends
Heading away
From houses like mine
Houses where
There was no candy
This opportunity
Too important
To waste time
No general
Planned so carefully
Straight up Broadway
Where houses
Were well lit
Houses with hard candy
Small suckers
And an occasional Hershey bar
I hated apples
Or popcorn
Poured in my bag
I followed
A mental map
Plotted form past experience
Through the community
Until late
In the evening
Nearing ten
I made my way home
With the only
Store-bought sweets
I would see
Until Christmas
Mother scrubbed hard
On my face
The carbon
Not wanting to give way
Finally not satisfied
She allowed me
To go to bed
With the promise
Of a more dedicated
Assault on the black
The next morning
How the thought
Of the bounty
Kept me awake
As I lay
Beside my brother
Tomorrow would bring
Such sugar blessings
As I gorged
On my Halloween blessings

My Son’s Thirtieth | A Poem by J.K. Durick

We brought out baby pictures, a whole album’s worth
and passed them around, both sons and their girlfriends
laughed and commented, but so much of the humor was
lost for my wife and me, so many of the people in those
pictures are dead now; a life begins and still goes on, but
many of the others have disappeared into that dark night;
he’s the child of our middle years, old enough to be his
grandparents, so we bring out the pictures, pictures of his
real grandparents, relatives and friends hoping to capture,
recapture moments like this, like in the pictures we were
in then, commenting and laughing – birthdays are like this,
a moment we look back, look forward, and try to catch
the moment as if we could, in pictures that will continue
after we are gone.

Bill | A Poem by Gareth Culshaw

I couldn’t believe he was still alive.
It is a decade since I saw him.
He looked ill even then.
His hair still trying its best to cover
his head. The slumped shoulder that
carried a wooden ladder.
Rolled cigarette like a budgie
perch in his lips. His eyes brown,
needed cleaning too. He use to
have a swinging bucket from his hand.
It held water that never seemed
to drain away. The rag was a fist
in his pocket, ready to unleash
greyness to the glass. He would sip
pints from every pane he cleaned.
When I saw him the other day
it took me back to when he squeaked
on my bedroom window, while father’s
voice filtered up to him like chimney smoke.
In reply he only ever grumbled.

Life Lessons Learned at Your Knee | A Poem by Roy Pullam

I was not prepared
For the long separation
A complete independence
I never wanted
You did not see gray
Your values
So absolute
That I often felt
I fell short
In your eyes
You had no time
For hate
Though to many
Poverty and trash
Went in the same bin
And though
You were knocked down
You never stayed down
With the feeling
That only cowards
Bemoaned their faith
That I
Should never stop trying
Should never settle
For ease
It rings in my ears
The bell of truth
The sound of your voice

Dawn Comes in the Berry Patch | A Poem by Roy Pullam

She shook me awake
It was still dark
I could smell the biscuits
Baking in the oven
Of the coal stove
Dad sat at the table
His mug in his hand
Mother made sandwiches
We ate in haste
Taking our buckets
We hoped to get
At the briar patch
Right at dawn
Dad had found it
Lush veins
On a ditch bank
Larger fruit
Waiting for the picking
We hoped
To fill our buckets
Before the sun
Burned directly
Over us
The sweat
Pouring in the scratches
Burning my 9 year old body
We needed the money
Dad’s mine
Working three days a week
With no demand for coal
In the hot summer time
With bills to pay
Food for the table
That demand
Never stopped
Never slacked
Even when work did
Dad picked fast
Raking the berries
With practiced hands
I struggled to keep up
But my mind
Was on ball
On swimming
What other boys
Did Saturday mornings
But mine
Was a different life
One where the family
Struggled together
Finding any option
To survive
We filled our buckets
Beginning the long walk home
We would sell the berries
Seventy five cent a gallon
$7.50
For two hours work
How I looked forward
To the cool bath
The grape Kool-Aid
In the icebox
A Coke was better
But a package
Of the sweet powder
Was only a nickel
I would settle
For the cold
To wet my parched throat
To sit
Under the sugar maple
For awhile
Resting until evening
Cooled enough
For us to pick again

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
Fruitcake
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
Gone
With the other skills
Of my mother