Mother’s Great Maple Tree

Floating through Iowa morning sky,

I remember childhood of space travel,

Allen Shepard, John Glenn, they’d made it,

For me in Iowa, East Side, I dreamed

Up that old Great Maple, wings for seed,

In South Dakota could such as these exist?

Yet, trees unlike South Dakota, grew on 47th street,

Sixty-years, Maple out of our house window,

Window bright, mother, you gave Iowa

Up to cancer, my brother Doug said nothing,

Coco, all his money beautiful Shetland

Died, Doug was five- years-old,

I launched model rockets into air

Four-hundred feet, cardboard, balsa wood

Painted yellow Explosion of parachute

Into our backyard, where lost boys

Conducted experiments with chemistry set,

Constructed Erector Set towers ; I never learned

To spell, so read The Adventures

Of Huckleberry Finn, old Jim, Becky Thatcher,

Then To Kill A Mockingbird the torment of Negros,

Kerry first real friend in seventh grade,

Taught me more about rockets, day

After summer day, such as I was

Eleven-years-old, then to seventh grade

Doug and I baby sat each other, summer’s

Reading, moving next to old Walker’s

House, rockets again, another Shetland

Grew as Doug grew, now he was eleven,

Remembered his snake collection, I entered

Advanced track school, none foresaw

Grinnell College family someday picked me

Up by boot straps, gave me scholarships

Became my shoulders from boot-straps

After drinking my way across Europe,

Fine wine, cheap beer, anything even green

Smoke, followed me, another day, English

Literature into great upheaval in each sum

I wanted to write poetry, never math even though

Mrs Christian gave me my only “F,”

That stuck, so I began to read so much Miss Emily.

Modern Poetry, in reverence , Science Fiction,

In Open class, girls thought Kerry,

Friend was odd, so I was odd and lonely, all but one

I was oh so smart we checked each other’s dreams

I found TS Eliot’s Ash Wednesday

I never knew how Kerry began to love

Me me as brother he never had, through High School

On to College, farther afterwards he picked me up,

As the friend he never found.

Finding dad, I had known dad longest,

My father was in college, I reported him to Social Workers,

He was hauled into court in California, blamed for every

Dollar he never paid for my pairs

Of shoes, so I took on paper-routes,

Earned every frozen cent, Doug took his

Paper money, spent it all on pop, on gum

Candy, fruit rings, toys, on a Roger’s Drum Kit envious

I went to meet dad first , and step-mom, wished

My visits with our dad would end until old age.

I  ended knowing how dad treated her,

Our mother wept for her boys because of his cruelty,

Turned to acceptance, cancer grew in her, I took on burdens

I wept, my wife consoled me, my brother Doug never

Understood me, but she understood my marriage came first,

While I lit the last candle of her death

Loved her to end of radiation, chemo, calling everyday, everyday,

From South Dakota, my students found out, understood

My stricken moods; as student myself, my lessons

Softened–child-man, these were my lessons

Why I’d  moved to California at age eighteen

In my dreams, found her when

I was sixty-two-years-old, or sixty-seven.

Our town of Hartford became

My resting place with my wife

My Marjorie, my pearl, my confidant

I wept for hours, for the lost boys

After days in ICU myself, came to know a Higher Power

Know why Kerry flew to Hawaiian Island,

Most of all my Marjorie, married longest after mother’s death

Dorothy, our mother, My Gift of God.

She never truly celebrated our 30th, dad’s long

Marriage, but our anniversaries began

With her Donald when she died, her death

Anniversary forgotten for her lost boys,

Her sons returned. Without her death nothing would have

Come together, many miles gone that old Maple,

Still growing in a new front yard; I Consoled dad

As he finely reasoned our love

Why I did what I had done, why I called attorneys

Abandoned him to jail when

I was just eleven, fear in my heart

Because he’d never sent child-support

Again lost boys, another parent

Thought we were gone; it was our mother

I Confessed my sin as he became his need at eighty-eight

I Always knew my own treason to him,

He bound me to truth, to never speak of this.

At 67, again I assumed his needs–every year

Like mother at 68 when she died, we brought him

To South Dakota in frozen January

To see our daughter; he was finally disabled

This mountain man, so  unlike his sons,

Visited with Doug in California, tried to loved us both,

Doug never understanding his ending

Another loss for my mother’s beaten life,

Marilyn his second wife in death–

Lost his best friend, as Doug never

Understood our mother’s childhood

Beaten by foster parents; because dad’s wife

Rested in Sierra Nevada grave in meadow grass

Away  from his dishevel home he’d never leave

Leave it just the way it was that day of her death.

He finally laid to rest his wife

While our mother laid by her her husband

Deep in her grave no one could ever leave her,

His youngest son filled with hate at divorce

Abandonment with education long out of reach

With release from mother’s death again

By cancer, I told father it was not his

Redemption from her beauty in her death,

But his sons who finally understood.


Published by elgwyn

I was a University and college writing teacher, now retired, so I write poetry, and essays, mostly free verse poetry. I love writing. Computers, tablets, and smart phones are the norm. When one sees university campuses with students looking at phones while walking to class, one realizes writing can be blogging. I am an ordinary man writing for artistic pleasure writing, and simple taste-- blogs are an answer to high priced self-publishing. Walt Whitman had to print his paper books himself, because in 1855, and 1860 poetry did not sell. It does not sell now unless you have a Pulitzer Prize and even then the poet usually makes a living in other ways than writing. In all ages there have been writers writing out of their own needs, and blogs are an answer to get rid of high cost of self creativity. I am an older man with fewer computer skills than my daughter who has been at computers since she was three, so here I can satisfy my need to write without spending too much on self-published books. All three blogs let me reach an audience missed by books and stand a better chance to reach a wider audience. My two books, Winter from Spring, Meditations on Gratitude, as Kindle books and paperbacks did not reach as many people as I wanted, and blogs can let me avoid the printer. Layout and design is expensive. For me writing is more like the charcoal jottings of preexisting civilization made only for posterity. Blogs face two problems as I see it. They might be submerged into a chaos of too much writing, and they depend on electronic storage. Yet, how's that different from electronic books which must have specialized publication? Paper disintegrates, blogs can be physically stored and organized for posterity in data banks. All organization becomes chaos at some point, but charcoal images on cave walls still exist after the author scribbled eons ago. So what if I reach only a few interested people, but hopefully, readers will reach out to me. Writing is essential for showing the ways of culture before history knows those ways. To record each individual is essential especial for billions of people who need to know enough reading beyond pictures to save a planet. Writing without profit isn't new to me. I'm not seeking to impress the audience. Poetry in general never sells, and personal confessional, and emotional writing exists sometimes like journal writings only for the author. At least here is my hope for wider audiences. My writing is personal and informal, but my writing expresses some serious ideas like the writing of contemporary writers to rise above chaos in my own simple way, above self-absorption, a meditation, the simple writing of an ordinary man. I hope to find my own way out of my own chaos and make my record stand alone if even in electrons. Though I hope never to express nightmare in my poetry, fiction, or essays, some serious considerations are important to me after centuries of mechanized nightmare. The next decade is probably of the same failure in our world. This decade looks to be another time of diminished individuals and the next as well. We all wish peace and hope will become normal. It looks like if hope reaches each individual, not governments there is satisfaction in making means of writing available to many. My hope is for each human being to give their own expression out of the abyss. If humankind is to survive in any common way, we must each be able to express maturity and take responsibility in something beyond self. Electronic media offers people these possibilities so long as computers can store individual lives. Here people can freely see what I write and what others write. Though I hold an MFA in creative writing my simple vision never found a wide audience. I was disappointed about this earlier in my life, but now it's just what one expects of such degrees. I found happiness in family and especially in love of my wife and daughter. Writing can be more than a pastime now that I'm older. I approach seven decades living with some disappointing times, and some satisfying times. I'm like most people, and I've been married more than 37 years, and we sent a successful daughter into the world. We happily live in a country where even the poorest have food. Often as a young man when I traveled for nearly one year through Europe, where does a culture begin to feed and house so many people, and how do all these people live in harmony since World War II? Maybe it's been a question of survival. Writers can hold a little corner with blogging, blogging for harmony and peace. This is my hope. This is my question.

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