by John Barrale

Childhood? My mother told me stories;
about my grandfather
who was taken for a ship’s timber—
cut down in a flail of sweating arms
and buzzing saws—
his stump left in the ground’s mouth,
a half-pulled rotting tooth.

Mother mourned for more than thirty rings of growth,
told me she often saw transmissions in her branches—
pictures unimaginable of water vaster than any lake
and a sun that rose fiery at dawn,
its face unpleasant, skull-like
and too hot — a real grass scorcher,
except there was no grass.

Of my father, I remember little.
He was taken while I was still a sprout.
My mother says for planks. What kind?
As the saying goes, she leaves those knots
in the branch for me to fill.

I’d like to think he ended up wild, a circus wagon
hauling something big, and red, and noisy.
My brother, who knew him, says no,
probably just plain old flooring.

John Barrale’s poetry has been published in numerous print and online publications, most recently in Unoaurean, East Meets West – American Writer’s Review, and Icon. Along with four other “Gang of Five Members”, John hosts the William Carlos Williams reading series in Rutherford, NJ. In 2012, “Shakespeare’s Moths”, a collection of John’s poems, was published by White Chicken Press. He currently resides in New Jersey.

Photo by: Ana Prundaru