Read Write Poem Prompt 117

Uncle Mel

(1919-1985)

Thank you for telling me
a goat tied you to a tree
when you were three.

It was a rich and satisfying story.
Less humorous,
your screaming in the yard
until rescued
by your grandmother.

You told me
because you were dying
and no one else knew—
either fact,

and because
even at eighteen
I was the family repository
of all things historical.

I am sorry
to have let you down.

My apartment is now piled high
with a chaos of boxes
and papers,
endless records,
a stray sandwich or two:
a manifest disorganization
of spirit and mind.

No one gets past the door
to see the former catalog
turned waiting conflagration.

All the facts, the stories
the legends of generations
still reside in my mind
yet I’m beyond
finding one in print,

and wonder if anyone
will bother sorting
when I am gone.

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13 thoughts on “Read Write Poem Prompt 117

  1. Pingback: My Favorite Painter « Poemblaze Blog

  2. Matt, I lke the way the memory is a memory of a retelling of someone else’s tale that must be absorbed into your own story. Then the volta, the shift to the uncatalogued chaos that prevents the orderly perpetuation of all that entrusted stuff. Nice, Matt!

  3. I’ve always thought about who will sort one’s things after one is gone. There’s always one who catalogs family things but what when the one is gone. Another takes over, I think. Or like to think. Interesting poem Matt.

    No one gets past the door
    to see the former catalog
    turned waiting conflagration.

  4. Don’t know why you said on RWP that it didn’t follow the prompt 100%, I think you did fine with it. Some pretty heavy thoughts underneath those lighthearted moments… gives it a nice texture. You couldn’t have closed it better, either.

  5. I can sympathize with the fire danger. (You know it’s getting bad when you pass up a chance to move because there’s too much stuff to pack.)
    The explanation: because you were dying and no one else knew; that was the thought that touched me.

  6. This is my favourite poem of the week.The underlying
    and subtle hint of sadness at your passing and all the
    memories of others lost with you is very moving.
    On the surface your delivery is straightforward but the underlying current tells a different story.Excellent poem.

  7. I agree with Joseph. I think you did a fine job with the prompt. I understand the whole deal about boxes, papers, etc…I have tapes of family member interviews sitting around that I’ve only transcribed part of. I especially love the sadness contained in the last stanza.

    -Nicole

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