Grandad

We never met,
But there were stories
He was a bastard
In more ways than one.
He put at least
A dozen buns in Granny’s oven
And drank himself into
A fairly early grave
With money
She tried in vain
To save.
He was deeper
Than he appeared,
At least, my dad said so,
But he could lash out,
And he passed on
That trait, I’ll tell you.
He may have been
A philanderer.
Still,
If he’d never
Fathered my father,
I’d not be here
To slander him.

Kathleen Mortensen @2016

Like this piece? Here’s a sweeter take on my Irish heritage. HUM

And thisSPUDS

 

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Grandad

We never met,
But there were stories
He was a bastard
In more ways than one.
He put at least
A dozen buns in Granny’s oven
And drank himself into
A fairly early grave
With money
She tried in vain
To save.
He was deeper
Than he appeared,
At least, my dad said so,
But he could lash out,
And he passed on
That trait, I’ll tell you.
He may have been
A philanderer.
Still,
If he’d never
Fathered my father,
I’d not be here
To slander him.

Kathleen Mortensen @2016

Fade (in memory of my father 17/11/2008)

When I wrote this poem in 2008, it was just a couple of weeks before he left us. The response to this work was strong; many people were moved and it touched something in their own experience. That is why I am choosing to share it today, on the 7 year anniversary of my father’s death. I have other, cheerier, reflective pieces to commemorate him, but someone may need this particular one right now.

Kat

FADE

I enter the room
Where you lie on the bed,
Pillow props your head—
So many words unsaid.
I look in those
Still-sparkling eyes and see
Shades of the father
Who oft carried me.
Are you inside
This man gone so gray
Who gave me away
On the hottest of days
Post-chase of O.J.?
Who danced jaunty jig
Each St. Paddy’s feast
And loved every beast–
The kindest man
Who brought strays
Home from church,
Or birds felled
From their perch–
Can’t see you, though I search
For the fearless man who led
Our voices and who read
From pulpit many times–
Forgave me all my crimes.
You taught me how to drive
Though I fought you tooth and nail,
Left you standing in the hail
As I tore off down the road–
You didn’t much explode;
The one who drove my teddy bear
Cross-country with such care
Just to hand him back to me,
My delighted face to see,
The man who never
“Cheaped out” on a gift,
Who gave me fireman’s lift
To bed each night
And tucked me in,
Protected me from sin and
Guided me as much
As you could with word and touch,
The man who held my hand
When I fell and hurt my head–
Needed stitches, then you led
Me to fairground, for a whirl,
To distract your little girl;
The numbers man—wordsmith as well,
Writing letters, truths to tell,
British-soldier way back when–
Memoirs never put to pen,
Only photos to attest,
Save the stories in our breasts,
But your duty you upheld,
Passing on the faith that dwelled
In your head and in your heart,
My salvation to impart
And you lifted me up high,
In my spirit…’til I die…

Now, your smile for me, is brief;
Still its pow’r restrains my grief,
Though your eyes close as I stand
By your bed–you take my hand,
In your twisted, vice-like grip,
As the saline-drip, drips drips.
From your grasp I slip
…away
From the room
Into
… the fade…

‘til I come another day.

Kathleen Mortensen©2008

Daddy Sends The Banshee

Those nights,
when the wind is bashing
the window-screens
‘til they bone-rattle
(charnel-house choppers
in a glass by the bed
).

As I lie awake,
in that nowhere-world
of memory and tomorrow’s plans,
I hear her cry
through the neighbouring birch,
and the pinnacle of pines that lines
the cemetery wall.

It is then I recall,
my Irish father’s
witch-cackle of glee,
as he caught me off-guard
(jumping out from behind the turret at that castle;
masking up and knocking at the front door
).
He snickers yet
in my soft wet ear.

My head holds firm to the pillow,
plastered to the plumpest spot,
where I find small comfort
from the wail of Daddy’s banshee
coming for me,
but the wood-frame windows
hold her out.

She’s very cross now;
her pitch is high and shrill,
as my pillow
swallows me whole,
and I go to a better place
where lambs frolic in the afternoon sun
and blades of grass
are there
to be whistled.

Kat Mortensen©2010

This Inheritance

Splitting Hairs
standing in front 
of the mirror,
i wield a comb
in my right hand
i rake the end-tooth
from the frontal bone
back to the parietal—
wending my way
through wet strands
if i produce
a path on the left
i can see
those familiar foreheads
of my father’s line
in mine.
if i go right
my mother
stares me in the eye.
if i part
down the middle,
is that me?
Kat Mortensen©2013

The Way You Were

Some nights, before I go to sleep,
I keep seeing you, as you once were (when I was young).

Strange, the things we remember:

The way you brushed your teeth, so hard,
as if they were up for daily inspection by an army officer,

or how you stamped your feet
on the mat by the door, every time you came in.

I used to marvel,
at your ability with a steering wheel—one hand,
pulling it down and around, when we turned
a corner.

If I’m lucky,
Before I drift away, I’m allowed the sound of your whistle,
or a line of a tune we both loved.

I can hear the swish of your brush against your shoes on Sunday morning,
as you polish them up—good as new.

Then I see your back and shoulders,
(in an old white vest), bent in prayer to God,

and wonder,
if you still do that too.

Kat Mortensen©2013Creative Commons Licence

A Poem For My Father on St. Patrick’s Day

My Father, as a young man, in the British Army

I wrote this poem for my dad back in 2003. I’m sure he’d be pleased to know that I’m sharing it with you all now. He passed away in 2008, but his memory lives on, and we never are remiss about celebrating the St. Patrick’s as he would have done.  Here’s to you, Daddy! Erin go Bragh!

On St. Patrick’s Day

 I know what will happen St. Patrick’s Day
 As soon as the music fills the air,
 And the greenery is everywhere;
 my father will sit in his old, worn chair,
 And fight back the tears as the bagpipes play—

 I know what will happen St. Patrick’s Day …

 He’ll be singing “I’ll Take You Home Again—
 Kathleen, I remember way back when”—
 His voice will grow soft and I’ll lose him then;
 His eyes will mist as the bagpipes play—

 I know what will happen, St. Patrick’s Day ….

 The whiskey will flow and we’ll eat so well;
 There’ll be cabbage cooked despite the smell;
 We’ll joke and laugh, you might never tell,
 But Daddy will sigh as the bagpipes play—

 I know what will happen, St. Patrick’s Day …

 If only I could take him home,
 To the “old sod” from which he roamed,
 I know that I could bring a smile—
 A tear of joy, e’en for a while,

 And when he’s gone, the pipes will play …
 I’ll be the one crying, St. Patrick’s Day

. Kat Mortensen©2012 Protected by Copyscape DMCA Takedown Notice Checker