all the stuff in grandfather’s pocket (1st draft)

eh, not sure what i think of this one, i like the idea, but it’s not congealing the way i want it to. i’ll have to come back and look at it again

grandfather is always talking in riddles, he keeps them in his pocket, the pocket with the hole in, all his riddles are escape artists, they fall to the ground and follow him wherever he goes, like baby ducks

“remember, wherever you go, there you are” 

grandfather is talking in circles again, talking about ferris wheels, talking zodiac symbols and goblin on unicycles, he says “it takes one hundred million revolutions to make one evolution, so make it a good one” 

grandfather keeps his third eye in his pocket, with his chapstick and a rusty key, an old baseball ticket stub and a broken golf tee, three red rosery beads and his favorite naked lady coin, grandmother is always sewing the hole in his pocket, grandfather keeps ripping it out, “a pocket with a hole in it is like a heart without a head”  
 
grandfather is talking crazy again, static in the attic, rubbish in the oven, magic in the madhouse, is it wisdom? is it life lesson or myth? mystery or mist? (or “vapour” as hughes writes it) nothing we can understand

“the faster the dog shits, the more tired he gets” 

“poppa!” grandmother yells, “not at the dinner table!” and the kids just giggle, then he sends us to bed with a riddle and a prayer “sleep deep, children, dream-birds will bring you skipping stones and magic bones, careful not to lose them when you wake”

his face is a lexicon of puzzles, eyes glitter like razors, eyebrows thick as encyclopedias, his smile a thousand years of love, and all the lines, a map of some otherworld long gone and yet to be born, his riddles unlock forgotten doors

“look at me, i walk just fine, even though my sock is falling down”

“What the hell pappa? what do you mean?”

“if there’s a hole in your soul, don’t fill it with yourself, a hole can’t fill a hole, that’s how we collapse” grandfather is always making sense, and he gets younger by the year, i see it in his eyes, he won’t be an old man poet crying old man poems, angels only sing in riddles 

“surprise surprise, sunrise in the graveyard” as he walks across the rubicon, walks upon the water, he is adopting otters and river dippers, puts them in his pocket, the one with the hole in it, they will swim together forever and fly away as riddles  

posted for the word list at shay’s word garden

Published by

phillip woodruff

i live in colorado, i love poetry and fishing, i've never been to kentucky, i own 5 pairs of shoes, sometimes i drive too fast, i like craft beer, i own 37 fishing poles, i've never been to iceland, sometimes i drive too slow, right now there is a black bird outside my window, i stare at him and he stares at me

19 thoughts on “all the stuff in grandfather’s pocket (1st draft)”

  1. I’m immediately drawn to grandfather – all those wonderful half-koan wisdoms. A remarkable piece to read- all the family so alive they almost fall off the page. And the melding of images like miscellaneous collections in a child’s pockets – grandfather never lost that magic.
    “he is adopting otters and river dippers, puts them in his pocket, the one with the hole in it, they will swim together forever and fly away as riddles”pockets full of miscellaneous collection”

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  2. I feel gentle confidence here, please don’t change the poem. Grandfather won’t have a pocket without a hole in it says so much about him. Grandfather is a lovely person, half person half spirit, who will walk within and beside you forever. I enjoyed the character study you did with Hughes’ words, Phillip. A magical poem. Is it based on your own grandpa? I am guessing yes as the affectionate feels so real here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ” Is it based on your own grandpa?”

      sort of, a few of those saying belong to him, this a composite of a few people i have known, i was writing this more as a character sketch. our elders often are larger than life to us, mythical even, i wanted to capture that kind of a feel with this… i’m going to come back and look again in a few months, see if i feel better about with fresh eyes, so glad you liked this!

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  3. When I was in my late teens I had a dear friend ten years older than me, who was always saying “That reminds me of an old saying!” His old sayings were remarkably similar to the grandfather’s here–they made sense and made NO sense. I loved them, and him.

    One of my grandfathers died before i knew him, and the other, on mommie dearest’s side, was a stoic silent type. Adults seemed to like him, but as a grandfather he was an epic fail. And so I envy these children this sort of grandfather! He seems like a delight, and I very much enjoyed the interplay with his wife. She’s fixing a hole where the rain gets in but rain rain rain he don’t mind.

    Pssst… “Ferris” wheel. Thought you’d want to know. If not, please excuse my presumptuous presumption. Or maybe you meant it that way. I know you love wordplay, like “sowing” the hole in the pocket. 🙂

    I want to say how happy i am that you have become a regular at my list thing. I love having you there and very much look forward to what you will write. You are the genuine article, mister. Which reminds me of an old saying…. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. doh! thank you shay for pointing those out… i’ll get those fixed.

      and thank you for doing those word lists, i’m really enjoying them. and i am really enjoying writing and posting with you and joy, you are both really skilled writers and always challenge me, i kike that, and i need that… so thank you for doing it.

      btw, are you publishing any of your work in zines or journals anywhere? if so where? and if not perhaps you should, your poetry need to get out into the world. thanks again shay

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have several books out. One is on my side bar and most of the others–including two collaborations with Joy and another poet–are listed as pages on the side bar.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. i noticed those a few months ago, i still need to get my copies. i had to pay for my foot surgery out of pocket ($16,000) so i’m a little strapped for cash at the moment. no i was wondering to publish anything in poetry or literary journals. i am wanting to start doing that again, but all my old favorites are long gone. i see a lot of MFA style rags out there, but not much in the way of “wild child” style publications, and i was wondering if you knew of any

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      3. I do not. I was published in about three dozen print poetry journals in my 20s, but haven’t pursued it since. Did I mention that I didn’t write poetry at all for 20 years before resuming in 2006? My days of submitting to Infected Toe Quarterly are over.

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  4. I can see why you find parts of this problematic, phillip, because some are just a little muddy, but what you’re trying to show, a parade if you will of such a lot of complex, even profound, ideas, it just really works. It’s got so much to offer, it’s better to see it out here than agonize over a mostly not needed perfection that can be tweaked later. You make this zennish grandfather, with his third eye in his pocket, with a transcendentally sharp but kind line of life-knowledge hidden in his fable-like humor, not afraid to love, not afraid to be himself, you make him a person that everyone really needs in his life, childhood or adulthood–we need him. And so many stellar lines that make the pocket metaphor, which in itself is five star poetry– shine. I love the ending especially, and the part about dreams, but the whole thing is full of what we should all be thinking of to live our lives in a sane way, treat each other right and be happy…keep on doing what you’re doing, man. You are acing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So much great material here, agree with you (and Joy). Let it simmer and boil down to what matters most. There is something crazy/sane/cool that this grandfather wants to tell you and us. There is a door here, let it open when it is ready.

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  6. I instantly fell in love with this one. I’ve read it many times and just adore it.

    These are some of my favorite sections/images:
    “all his riddles are escape artists, they fall to the ground and follow him wherever he goes, like baby ducks”
    “a pocket with a hole in it is like a heart without a head”
    “grandfather is talking crazy again, static in the attic, rubbish in the oven”
    “his face is a lexicon of puzzles, eyes glitter like razors, eyebrows thick as encyclopedias, his smile a thousand years of love” … so smitten with this precious part
    “his riddles unlock forgotten doors” … love this
    the whole last stanza … my heart went all melty mess for Grandpa the further in I went; so much love for this poem

    I very much want to integrate, “Surprise, surprise, sunrise in the graveyard,” into my daily chatter with myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Surprise, surprise, sunrise in the graveyard,”

      that’s a personal favorite of mine too, and the faster the dog shits… he would say lots of crazy, creative things… i’m so glad you liked this, thank you

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      1. I get things ready in the kitchen every morning while looking out a sliding glass door at a one-of-a-kind sunrise in the graveyard. Behind our backyard is a cemetery. It’s stunning—often the highlight of my day, observing the unique colors and shapes of each particular sun-come-uppance.

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