Legacy

My poem is up at The Literary Nest. Here is the poem and some comments from the editor.

Legacy

Here’s one you haven’t heard,
he’d say to start each story—
and we hadn’t.

You could almost see him reach for the tale—
as if rummaging in the junk drawer
to retrieve it.

Sam worked at the Church Avenue Branch
of the library, until blindness
forced retirement.

He taught me to read
after my second grade teacher had declared
me hopeless.

He told stories to kids each Saturday morning
and taught English to adults three
nights a week.

I often subbed for him
as his cancer progressed—
I was happy at it.

Seventy years of smoking
had conspired to kill him.
As if the smoke

had found substance—a fat tabby
that slept soundly on his chest.
I’d kill

for a Camel, he said with what passed
for a laugh—Got one?
I’d have given

him one if I still smoked, but I could see
his mood had changed.
Here’s one

you haven’t heard, he said
one last time—in a half voice
I could barely understand.

When I was your age, I knew
a storyteller—told tales 
that made you shiver.

You have the gift.” he said.
I didn’t stay to watch him die.
That moonless night, the city

was dark as London in the blitz.
Here’s one you haven’t heard, I thought
taking a single baby step.

***
Editor’s Note:

What a lovely and gentle story of a storyteller and his protégée. Notice the linebreaks in stanzas 7-12. The regular length lines and complete sentences at both ends of the poem are interrupted by short lines with breath-stopping linebreaks in the middle, causing anticipation to build up.

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4 Responses to Legacy

  1. wpbzkzk says:

    I am glad you included the editor’s comments—made me re-read the poem several times over — more than I might have . What a great ending — or was it a beginning? Really good!

    Like

  2. maryrohrerdann says:

    The editor got it right – a dark but lovely poem. And yes, the line breaks serve the tone so well. Congrats.
    m
    Mary Rohrer-Dann

    “Tell me, what is it you plan to do
    with your one wild and precious life?”

    Mary Oliver “The Summer Day”

    Like

    • stevieslaw says:

      Thanks Mary. I had no idea the editor would post comments, but it was nice to see(just me or are poets a needy bunch). I was playing with line breaks when I started the poem and some of them made it to the end. Studying line breaks is another career opportunity. st

      Sent from my iPad

      >

      Like

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