Poems and Poetry

memory 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
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


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School Mornings | A Poem by Roy Pullam

I lay in my bed
Sinking in the feather down
The cover
High on my neck
The fire in the grate
Banked to save
The coals
For the morning
The cold gathering
In the back
Of the room
I could see my breath
The chill
On my face
Causing me
To burrow
Beneath the quilts
Gradually my ears
Regained feeling
I slept
A deep dreamless sleep
Until the clock
Urged me
From my cocoon
I took the poker
Stirring the fire
Reawakening the slumbering flames
Gathering the ashes
Into a shovel
Loading a bucket
Taking them out
Exchanging them
For the black fuel
That warmed the house
I waited
Watching the fingers
Of flame
Break apart
The lumps
Now warm enough
The water heated
On the kitchen stove
Poured in a #2 washtub
For my morning bath
Toweling myself off
I sat close
In my underwear
The warmth
Soaking in
Like a lizard
On a warm rock
I cherished
The moments
Stirring only
To get dressed
To begin
The long walk
To school


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Please Forgive My Lapse of Memory | A Poem by Roy Pullam

Your face has changed
From 13 to 40
You have filled
The demand of adulthood
I look with the slight memory
A faint recognition
But I am afraid
To speculate
To put my finger
On the roll
To place you
In my past
I know it hurts
That you are anonymous
That years of pimpled faces
Of kids eager
To get beyond
The clumsy
To claim their place
Among what they think
Is independence
Only to find
The bind tighter
Jobs, children, husbands
Commitments
That blacken your calendar
Now I face your disappointment
That during the best
During the worst
Years of your life
You can find no register
In my blank stare
I feel guilty
Not remembering
But time
Erased so much
Like the erasers
On my blackboard
And I am left
With just the yellow dust
The powder
Of times past

PHS 1964 | A Poem by Roy Pullam

The parchment has faded
The setting
And most of the teachers
Gone now
Lucky classmates
Aged and gray
Other chasing
The lines of Bryant
That mysterious caravan
That will not allow
Them to return
We gather
Hoping to see
A glint of youth
In each other’s eyes
To reclaim that past
That gathers more fog
In the passing
Of years
How we long
To rekindle
Friendship
Lying in ashes
Between the time
Between reunions
We chose not
To abandon the light
to let the past
Be done
It is the bond
Of shared confidences
That stirs us
From the recliner
To look our best
So others
Will not see
The cost of time
I will come
Bathing in the fellowship
Sharing the jokes
Sharing the stories
Grieving for lost friends
Counting my blessings
In our five year
Ritual

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

Summer 1953 | A Poem by Roy Pullam

His was a cabin
On Barker Hill
The view
Across the meadow
A haven
In the summertime
I loved to draw
Water from his well
The sweet taste natural
Just pure and cold
Evenings the kerosene lamps
Made shadows
On the wall
Dancing flames
Pranced across the wick
The different colors
Hypnotic
I would stare
At the pinpoints
Of light
In the semi-illuminate room
My cousins
Would sleep
On the feather bed
While I played grown up
Trying to understand
Adult conversations
Uncle Ed and my dad
Would talk old times
Sharing stories
Of their hijinks
With characters
I didn’t know
But both
Storytellers
Breathed life
In their corpses
Bringing them alive
For me
I would fight sleep
But eventually
It would take me
With the last
Of their talk
Slowly dripping
Into my ears
The smooth yarn
Dropping as gentle
As a feather

Walnuts | A Poem by G.S. Katz

I remember my father sitting at the kitchen table
Cracking open walnuts and eating every morsel
Dad was a good eater, chicken was his favorite
When he got done with half a chicken
It looked like a war had taken place on his plate
Bones gleaned of any meat
A spectacle to watch
We always kidded him about it
The walnuts though I never got
He drank celery tonic too
Another non-starter for this cowboy

I never felt like I knew my dad
He was always a quiet man
Gentle but firm, pragmatic as the day is long
I wanted to know him but I wasn’t allowed in
Four years behind enemy lines during WWII
maybe the cause
After he passed I found out I wasn’t the only one
to feel his silence
He was rarely mad
His favorite expression
“God forbid for worse”
He would say if we kids every complained too much

I gave the eulogy at his funeral
That’s what a son does
I was so honored to be his kid
Despite the distance between us
The love was there, my mom also telling me so

I’ve tried to make peace with walnuts
I eat them now for health reasons
I still don’t really like them
For dad’s sake though I feel him with every bite
I buy them already shelled
Dad had to do the work breaking them open himself
A decorated war veteran
It was like rolling off a log