NaPoWriMo #17 – Memories

This is my seventeenth post for National Poetry Month 2010
• two free verse poems
• one tanka


…this piece that follows was inspired by the April 15th prompt at Magpie Tales





he places it in my trembling hand
as he lays dying

it marked sacred
all the precious moments
of our life together

be they great
be they small
all are in here

the moment he carried me
from the orphanage
to change my life

the time after time
he returned home from work
his face chill from a winter evening
or warm from the setting sun
always wonderfully gritty

day’s end stubble
would scrub my cheeks
as he’d gather me in his arms
coming through the door
factory on his khaki shirt

I love that puzzlingly pleasing smell

soon as he was in the house
he’d grab me up
tumble me to the floor
lift me high in the air
to fly

I could always fly with my dad’s support

and the time he shielded me
behind his strong legs
as the neighbor’s rabid collie
came at me
so suddenly

I was frightened but felt so safe

and those magical moments
as a child
every christmas eve
dad would take me by the hand
and walk me uptown
into our little hometown
through the brisk air
under the bright lights of the season
and into each cozy store
everyone celebrating
shop owners heaping candy
and assorted goodies on me

then we’d get back home
to witness a christmas miracle
every year

santa had come
while we were gone

I was always confused
by the multiple santas
we would encounter on our little walk
but I was never confused
about my father’s love

then there’s the time
he introduced me to hardball
rubbing away the tears
first time
I was hit by a pitch

and when he taught to catch
then throw
a football

the moment he handed me the keys
to his classic Chrysler
now mine

when he cried at my graduation
and again at my marriage
and still again
at the birth
of each of his three grandchildren

so many incredible memories
in this wonderful watch
so many

it was passed to him
from his father
and now entrusted to me

two lifetimes of love
enshrined in this engraved case
engraved in the hearts
now to be three

a lot of tears on the timeworn face

now I add mine
as I stand helpless
watching him go
clutching the treasure close to my heart
as I bend to kiss his stubbled face
one last time

• • •



…this next piece below was inspired by Neil Reid’s prompt at read write poem…



A Perfect Moment


deep in the ancient wood
secreted amongst the old-growth
a forest clearing

soft filtered sunlight
falls gentle
dreamlike from the canopy
drifting golden
into the sacred space

heady ecstasy
winds whisper of eternity
nature echoes memories

a downed Douglas slumbers
at peace through the centuries
snug in a moss blanket
wrapped in gaia’s final embrace

time suspends
elements converge
the earth is in balance

life aligns
for a perfect moment

• • •






tossel moved to left

parchment gripped in nervous hand

new life now begins

memories of special times

friends you may forever miss

• • •

poem and tanka by: rob kistner © 2010


…check out something elemental at readwritepoem

30 thoughts on “NaPoWriMo #17 – Memories

  1. ‘Engraved’ drips with personal emotion, at times though, it reminds me of my dad (whose emotions were not often displayed). It’s a beautiful piece and a fine tribute.
    You certainly picked the ‘perfect moment’ for your ‘elemental’ piece.
    And ‘crossroad’ sums up life in general.

  2. I echo Stanski in my admiration of Engraved. These personal feelings and memories are sometimes difficult to put into un-mawkish words, but you have done a splendid job in honouring your Dad.

    If I have one cavil, it is the line:
    “and now caringly entrusted to me” which I think would read better without “caringly” as it is almost tautology with entrusted, and spoils the rhythm!

    I loved your Perfect Moment, and look forward to my own “crossroads” graduation ceremony at the beginning of June!. Now I know what it will feel like!

  3. Oftentimes the pocket watches are passed down as heirlooms. It’s a love idea, isn’t it. Your poem captured this timeless thread through the generations nicely.

  4. Good call on the “caringly” thing Viv, and thank you for being so focused and honest.

    It was one I was uncertain about. Because it is written so quickly, with little deep editing, all my NaPoWriMo work, even if drawn from an earlier free write scrap, stands, in my mind, as first maybe partial second drafts.

    I always go back after April is over, usually around June, and begin editing and rewriting, often significantly. One poem may turn into 2, later drafts may be shorter, very occasionally longer — but that usually leads to a split to two poems.

    Everything I have ever written is fodder for future poems. Writing begets writing, begets writing — it has always been that way for me. I seek inspiration from reading other poets and i read past works of my own as well.

    What I have up online at my three sites Image & Verse, Image & Verse Too, and reflect represents only a small portion of work that I have in some stage of writing.

    Should I ever seriously consider publishing some books of my poetry and art, every piece of writing would go through an in depth final pre-publising edit — and even than any piece would remain a candidate for ‘evolution’.

    …rob 😉

  5. I have my father’s watch, which I have kept to pass on to my son. My brothers had no children, so the watch is witness to the name, too.

    Thank you for such lovely poems, Rob.

  6. I feel like you were telling the story of your life. Was this a true story. It makes my hear soar to see the alturistic love that people can share. The pocket watch may be just a thing to some, but to others it holds the memories so dear to us.

    I really truly was lost in the story!

  7. Rob, what a gorgeous site, so expressive both visually and verbally. The watch prompt really brought up some powerful memories. I don’t have my father’s watch but I do have the very ancient clock that sat on his mother’s and grandmother’s

  8. Rob thank you for visiting my blog & for leaving your much appreciated comment.
    I love your work..your poem ‘engraved’ was such a moving piece to read. The honesty & sincerity in the words are absolutely beautiful. I have a tear in my eye. If this poem is written from your own personal experiences of your father….you were truly blessed.
    I am going to explore your blog a little bit more…it is just wonderful! Rephrase – Your work is just wonderful!!

  9. Re: Engraved: Wonderful, amazing, and so moving. I had to fight back tears as I read it. What a model of fatherhood your dad was. I’m sure you learned so much from him. The stubble scratching your cheek was the most vivid for me as I read it.

  10. Rob your fine poem “Engraved” my heart with much emotional embellishment. Similarily, my grandpa left his antique watch (not antique to him) to my eldest sister who cares for it to past it down to her eldest daughter and so on. These pieces of time so thoughtfully considered as you remember your father. Reminding me of how many wonderful memories life pro-offers to us. How special your relationship with your dad and how the clock embodies this timelessness; a continuation through time for all new generations to come. With much love and respect you’re heart-felt remembrances. How lucky to have those joyous memories “Engraved” for all time!
    In “A Perfect Moment” I really love “snug in a moss blanket” it reminds me of a childhood poem that my Mom and Dad would recite before I went to sleep. “Bye Baby Bunting; Daddy’s gone a hunting…”. The douglas fir so majestically natural in its life cycle so resigned to become one again with “gaia’s final embrace”. Beautiful! “Crossroads” is a tanka which reminds me of those times in one’s life when one must close a door and open another. Hopefully that door is not completely closed; I would so enjoy seeing my old friends one day! Or at the very least; to hear their voices once the academics were dispersed to the ends of the earth! Lovely!

  11. Rob

    I would like to see your poetry in a beautifully bound book and make it’s way to my bookcase– so I could indulge my self with many moods — poignant sometimes sweetly perfumed– maybe painfully sad at times or joyfully affecting my feelings–piercing deeply to the heart, touching and tender, pleasurably stimulating
    But always Cutting Edge.


  12. That’s one poignant poem and a terrific homage to your father. I’ve tried to write about my parents before and haven’t been able to. You control the emotion so well.

  13. some poems resonate with me. “Engraved” reverberates. I stood by my own father’s bedside 10 years ago with these very same feelings. And I could not have described them better myself.

    Thank you for that.

  14. Engraved is a moving tribute to a wonderful father, Rob! It sounds like you grew up engulfed by the love of an incredibly warm and caring man. And it shows in your writing! Thanks for directing me to this poem!

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