Grandfather

Each day I see men
driving their cars like
the dead. Tearing down the
highway, sometimes I dream
I am my grandfather
in the 2nd World War.
He sweats on Leyte
and shoots at the Nips,
as if he is his grandfather
forced into the fens
but still killing Saxons.
A smooth-tongued Welshman
who wishes he knew
his grandfather-
exiled from Italy for knowing
that even Rome burns.
While lighting his pitch torch
my twice great grandfather
was thinking of his grandfather
knapping stone knives
in what is now Africa.
A not-quite man whose grandfather
grins over his shoulder
and is called Death.

Comments and conversations on this post

  1. yeah i had some tough times with word choice in here. ‘pretending’ might be a bit too childish… i wonder what other word i could use… any ideas?

    i’ve heard a few Sun Kil Moon songs, you should check out Red House Painters too, its the same dude. real mellow.

  2. i like this, i think it’s among the better things you’ve written. i like the layers upon layers thing, and there is a darkness to the piece that is rich and nuanced. i am wondering if “pretending” might not be the perfect word, but maybe that’s exactly the word you want to use. to me, that word sounds playful and optional, while the poem itself suggests to me that there is little option here. to some small extent, your poem reminds me of a song from the sun kil moon album that is available here: http://www.neumu.net/gramophone/songs/sun_kil_moon/glenn_tipton.mp3
    i’ve been listening to it over the last few days and the connection i am speaking of is simply one about generations and doing as your father did, that sort of thing.

  3. i think what i was looking for, in place of “pretending” is some construction that basically means “being” – something more direct. looks like you changed it to “as if he is” which i think is closer to what i was picturing. as for red house painters, yeah, i’m aware of that. i sort of got close to being into them (him) a couple of years ago, it’s really kind of up my alley, but somehow it just never worked 100% for me. i think i am going to buy the sun kil moon album, as i have a hunch i will like it a lot. it’s the same guy and a very similar type of sound, but for some reason it seems as though maybe his choices are more in line with what i’m looking for this time around. he’s definitely a talent either way.