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Posts Tagged ‘grandfather’

At the Pond

At the pond with Gramps I
did not know what I was
becoming, I thought it would
be like that forever, that I
could always catch bullfrogs
and fire-bellied newts with
my small hands, Gramps
guiding me over my shoulder.

Years later the pond changed,
I caught catfish and large-
mouth bass, my fishing line
that connected me to the web
of every living thing, to the pond
Gramps fished on his childhood
farm, Gramps confined to a chair
I could still march up the hill and
tell him the days fishing stories,
I thought it would be like that forever.

That I crossed that pond in every
way; in a small rowboat that leaked,
by foot around its edges, by a
young brave swim, in my mind,
was proof of it all, of
early earth when life began to
more developed creatures to
a place, a pond teeming with
all that makes life pleasant.

In his eyes I from boy to young man,
some potential he saw in youth,
in my eyes Gramps from old to older,
strong to frail, life to wisdom to rest.

To know Gramps gave time as
if he were the pond, as if he had
an infinite mound of sand in some
hidden room somewhere that he
could fill up the hour glass with,
fill up the pond with creatures to
fish for after he had gone, fill up
my head with infinite cherished
gifts, birds and frogs and snakes and fish.

 

Kyle McHale        2014

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Twenty-One Shots

On a blue October day twenty-one shots
echoed through my heart,
jolted me back into the current moment,
where my thoughts had wandered
back to Pop-Pop’s firing salute years before,
this time empty shells hit the ground
and heavy blasts hit the air for my father.

Warriors get what they deserve at Arlington,
where their heavy hearts can rest.
Left here with our troubled hearts.
Rest well and forever,
whatever losses life gave you
have been given back.

Have you ever seen Marines fold a flag?
I’ll only see it once,
Marines in perfect symmetry,
folding the flag over my father,
ceremonial, sad, perfect,
brothers honoring each other
separated only by time.

I’ve had family in every American war.
Dad said he went to war so
Kevin and I did not have to.

God, I hope I deserve not
to see combat. I hope all
their blood has been enough.
God, I hope I live well enough
knowing there is a burden
they carried that I will
never be able to repay.

 

Kyle McHale                         2014

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Thoughts in Autumn

I become lost in the scattered mess as I always am,
or seem to be, unable to break my unhappy cycle.
When daylight begins to die with everything else I find some peace.
The modern world allows for many of us to
avoid panic before the cold comes,
too much time to think when survival is not the pulse of thought.

I let an early frost-covered weekend morning break the silence,
and watch the cold glisten outside the kitchen window.
The house is asleep, though I am not.
My head hangs, my heart hangs,
my thoughts aren’t of anything memorable or meaningful.

Coffee is a good thing,
I learned to drink it too young with Gramps who would wake
too early to watch frost with a hanging head as well.
A deep sadness carried by men who often spread cheer themselves
but know the grim realities of life,
staying with those who have love in their hearts despite
the darkness of the world.

Slow mornings are good.
I wish I could share them with Gramps and Dad.
I say bring the season on with a quiet passion.
Dying colors have that special beauty,
an irreplaceable hit on the senses.
The air is cold, the coffee hot,
and I somewhere in between.
If anything I am ahead of the day
but behind in everything else,
thinking on this autumn morning.

Kyle McHale      2012

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Dying in a Chair

I don’t want to die in a chair,
I’d rather be afoot somewhere,
To be out there when I’ve no air,
The men before me died in chairs.

For Pop-Pop faded in a chair,
All that he saw way over there,
The Pacific blood he went through,
Then understood what men must do.

For Gramps faded in a chair,
All that he saw way over there,
The prison camps that he went through,
Then understood what men must do.

For Dad faded in a chair,
All that he saw way over there,
That jungle hell that he went through,
Then understood what men must do.

I don’t want to die in a chair,
I’d rather be afoot somewhere,
To be out there when I’ve no air,
The men before me died in chairs.

Kyle McHale      2010

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Man’s Heart

Always now, as always then,
A place to form a perfect age,
When chivalry and better men
Had fine-tuned their sharp, skillful rage,
Or showed their love with letters sent,
With blood and earth on an old page.
Better or worse to woman that
Could then play puppet, tit for tat.

Always now, as always back
When only strength in men had failed,
Crushing thoughts of a woman that
Gave wind to an empty sail,
The only thing that men do lack,
Finding strength in loves betrayal.
Old knights and new knights do their best,
Holding hearts from a bursting chest.

Always now, as always ago,
Carried honor but could not pass,
Through or around the awful show
Of two body prints in soft grass
Where love was formed and made to glow,
But no one told not made to last.
A time or two duration of,
When honor thinks it can keep love.

Always now, as always had
To carry swords and steel plates,
But battle flesh is far from sad
When stacked against loving’s hate,
Of that which kills a lonely lads
Chance at keeping honors fate.
What swords of men, what honor set
Of traits can make good men forget?

Always now, as always past,
Dark ages come and go away,
It’s sweetest things that do not last,
That make men men in honors way,
Carrying forth the only task
To say the words when one must say,
I am man with armored heart,
I lead worlds that once were dark.

Kyle McHale      2009

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Toy Soldiers

A child with his soldier toys
Shoots and bangs his war time noise,
Knowing not the real cost
Of fallen brethren and true loss.

No one can fault the little ones
For thinking play time soldier fun,
For maybe raised on bravery,
A father dressed for full duty,

And back he comes from war alone
Blessed to see his child at home.
“Go on son with your soldiers play,
I’ll let you know the truth some day.”

Kyle McHale      2012

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Gramps

I write for the hands that cannot,
And for those of us full of fear,
I pace a life to burn and live,
To fit all moments within few years.

Then I look at a man named Gramps,
At a life I do wish to know,
Then I shall see a golden heart
At a Korean hell in snow

That prevailed through three dead years
In a camp I don’t wish to know.
That one heart kept warm that dead chill
In a place where the dead don’t go,

Is a triumph of faith in life,
For one more day to give a try
Is a will to live again and
For the chance to see an eagle fly.

Then I look at a man named Gramps,
Who had two shots at all true love,
Then I learn from a man named Gramps
Who taught more than life and his love.

I listened through the years to learn,
“Do right, work hard, be a good man.”
I watched as the watchful will do,
The deer, the bear, the dogs loved him,

In a way most creatures did do.
He died in a most peaceful spot,
Not in the days of cold Korea,
But on a gentle sweet hilltop.

Kyle McHale      2006

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