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Douglas Steele


Father's Grave


In my world 

At Father's grave (of Him),



We, standing rain-sodden bumping shoulders.

My soulless brother braying:

Well, never mind his push and tug,

it’s all done now then.


HE of stabbing harsh words gone

A drop rolling down my cheek – rain? 



No concrete fist

that un balanced me each to every fortnight

(drove me deepest in my skin).

Yet all my guts 

I would of given him

for a flourishing curled lip



In my world 

at (still) me Da’s grave (of Him),



Us, heads bowed to best the steady rain.

My sister-warrior-hero sad singing:

Well, in his heart there was a bit of good I suppose.  

But, it’s all done now then.


HE of voided shallow promises gone 

A drop simply gently truly trolls my cheek. 


The rain washes away that stained life

Of HE being he for always and ever


the rain washes away memories



In my world 

at (still) me Da’s grave (of Him),



They, touching elbows mewing tepid sighs in the rain.

A strangest among strangers' speeches

Well folks, Appointed I -  not much to say… 

 Anyway it’s all done now then.


HE of war time medals that no one knew

A drop touches my collar, to stay forever


And flinging with no shyness 

the moist dirt that

lands hard atop the oak

I shake the rain – then He

And walk






Hops and Apricots


1). The Old Man sighed smoked and talked:


We had no food, we left our home  

started picking hops, then apricots

followed the fruit, 9 cents a box 

slept on running boards  

the irrigation ditches our fountains

and trees our toilet  


Mom said dreams pursue reality

so with a 39 dollar bus ticket 

toting a prune crate suitcase

and my name is Dickie pinned to my shirt

I went to live with Grandma on the corner lot 

in Wyocena-village next to shallow Duck Creek


I boy’ed in corn stubble, rolling farmlands, wooded hilltops 

and in Grandpa’s trunk full of civil war memories

fished barefoot catching whoppers no one saw  

did chores until done right

Ya know everyone had a pocket knife

and a bag of marbles tied to their belt


we dragged burlap bags full of school books

I met knock kneed curly haired Betty

oh my how she kissed me by the railroad tracks

Billy plus Jack smoked corn silk

and threw up on their feet

I laughed and all was very good indeed


2). The Old Man took off his hat and dobbed at his top:


I didn’t miss those running boards

hops and apricots

and my olders but a distant recall 

till mom lost out to the damned consumption 

somewhere south of Frisco

                         that’s all I have to say about that


Days turned to years

there was a war a trench a gun

I had all three at once for a time

while mud-soldiering, 

Took hot lead that sent me home, upright not boxed

knowing killing men is no great sport


Breathing free air, pushing a plow

I soon found my Betty, put a ring on her finger

had a son and a dog

all was right, until nature went wrong leaving us

to pack up the old Ford with the slow rusty leak

and we went to the towering city to claim our future


Mom said dreams pursue reality

Us in a one room on the corner of Jersey and Elm

with radiators belching black smoke and steam

my boy got sick, he didn’t wake up.

Hell, I know it’s the having a thing and losing it

that hurts most.  


I can still see his small face

and hear his shrill laugh, 

watch him steal hot cookies from the counter

and feel his mothers heart 

break  in     two

                                  that’s all I have to say about that


3). The Old Man sat on a stump to collect his thought:


After that my sweet darlin my gal was never her

we went on our way both quite alone 

She to her people on the shallow Duck Creek

and me wandering empty job to dusty town 

Still I memoried of running boards

hops and apricots



Its true the world comes ‘round

I fell into money, not from trying

but from short work in a long field of black Texas oil

Had a big car a bigger house 

And dandified myself up 

God but I still missed Bets and my boy


Mom said dreams pursue reality

From hops and apricots, bloody trenches to farms and oil

It was the finding of that one thing, her - that held me

I went to the shallow Duck Creek for my curly haired 

Sweet so Sweet Betty. Kissed her, and stayed.  

                         That’s all I have to say about that


4). The Old Man winked and shuffled down the tracks toward home.





father's grave
hops and apricots
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