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.

3 thoughts on “Grandfather

  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/​g​r​a​m​o​p​h​o​n​e​/​s​o​n​g​s​/​s​u​n​_​k​i​l​_​m​o​o​n​/​g​l​e​n​n​_​t​i​p​t​o​n​.​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.

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