Sunday, March 1, 2020



Mommy’s Dance

Watching her in the kitchen
as she does dishes at the sink
oldies playing loud on the radio

Kate Smith White Cliffs of Dover
Patti Page Tennessee Waltz
Doris Day Whatever Will Be Will Be

She sings smiles into her sponge microphone
How Much Is That Doggie In The Window
dressed in her bibbed apron evening gown
swaying with her dashing dishtowel partner

Sashaying the linoleum ballroom floor
to big band music Glenn Miller playing
back ground for At Last with Etta James

Twirls while opening drawers cabinet doors
wipes the cupboard counter crooning
Yes Sir That’s My Baby by Count Basie

Gives a deep curtsy to her damp string mop
soft shoes to Bye Bye Blackbird exits stage
right to that place in my heart for Mommy

He always seemed to be the same age,
same weight, same clothes, same voice,
same everything at 40, 50, 60 and 70,
however when I see him at 80, he is old.

His same blue suit that always fit so fine 
swaddles a smaller frame as he shuffles
down the airport ramp beside Mom, still
her same ageless age, not frail like Dad.

New dentures show too white and large
through the thin blue lips of his smile.
Sharp shoulder blades, meatless arms
feel fragile in my welcoming hug.

His sunken eyes detect my sudden realization
he has come here to see me for his last time.
Blinking tears, I exhale hard through my nose,
clench my jaw, swallow to steady my voice. 

I’ve got a brown pill for y’all to take tonight,
lightens the mood remembering those tiny
powerful laxatives Mom always dispensed
to flush on-the-road food after every trip.

That final visit Dad spoke of friends I never met,
adventures never shared, times before my time,
stories heard in the past. This time I listen closer,
so not to forget a single word.


   “...and here's a marvelous convenient place for our rehearsal.”
                                                 ~ A Midsummer Night's Dream

His name and date of birth on the left,
hers on the right, etched in the stone
marker displaying their family name
easily seen from the graveyard gate.

The two smile familiar from a recent
photo posed indelible on granite slab
for visits hereafter to this tombstone
resting upon their final resting place.

I look at the picture of Mom and Dad,
trace the letters of my carved surname,
walk around their memorial, mindful
both my parents are far from departed.

Only electing an entombment chamber,
this future family plot paid for in full,
vacantly awaiting infinite residency,
merely missing their mortal remains.

Grateful both are still here with me,
more grateful neither now beside me
to witness my tearful preview of that
day when these empty spaces are filled.

Adobe Abode

The store bought balsa birdhouse
brought by my grand-girl today
now on that same bent rusty nail

hammered in our backyard tree
for the handmade house her
mommy made forty years ago

from two terra cotta flower pots
one upside down atop the other
held in place with preschool glue.

Remnants saved in a special place,
yellow pencil perch, several shattered
shards of clay displaying initials

etched by my three year old
daughter preserved forever
in this old man’s nest of memories.

Horehound Candy

Seeing it on the country store shelf
reminds me of Dad.
“Horehound Candy,” a name snickered
at when I got older,
a flavor not really to my liking,
a root beer licorice cough drop taste,
but still, it was candy
and what kid would turn down candy.

Dad would always buy one stick,
snap it in two, hand me my half,
say “too much sugar will spoil supper,
plus, a penny a piece is ridiculous.”

I don’t remember the first or last
time he bought me a stick,
I just remember he always did,
a sort of father-son rite of passage
when horehound was on the shelf.

So, I ask for one of the candies,
pay the ridiculous price of a quarter
and put half the stick in my mouth.
It tastes just like it did back then,
but I don’t remember when it ever
caused a tear to fall from my eyes.


CARL PALMER: Carl “Papa” Palmer of Old Mill Road in Ridgeway, Virginia, lives in University Place, Washington. He is retired from the military and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) enjoying life as “Papa” to his grand descendants and being a Franciscan Hospice volunteer. Carl is a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and Micro Award nominee. MOTTO: Long Weekends Forever!

1 comment :

  1. Thank you so much for allowing my poetry to be here, I am honored.