April 3, 2017 Poem “Cut: Elegy for My Grandfather, Charles Schultz”

NaPoWriMo 2017 April 3

     Elegy for My Grandfather, Charles Schultz

Though you were ever gentle,
when I was a little girl I was frightened
to be near you. A little deaf in one ear, you
barked and shouted, whirling
with a raised finger, a loud “Hey!

before your smile, your joke.
I didn’t know you were (as you’d say)
tickled pink to have me there.
My visits to Kalamazoo were rare.
Each year or so, we’d go

with you and Grandma, to the Elks
Club where B.P.O.E. was emblazoned
over the door. “Biggest Pigs on Earth!”
you’d always say, with relish. Inside,
Grandma would inspect the tines of forks,

and adjust the drape of her mink
stole, which frightened me with its teeth,
thin and sharp, biting its own tail,
and its glassy eyes reflecting candlelight.
Grandma would carp and you would rail,

sotto voce, then order a round of velvet
Manhattans, a Shirley Temple for me
with three cherries. Sometimes you’d swirl
your drink with your short finger, pink-
domed, the one you’d lost because,

you said, you were a damned fool
not to turn the lawn mower off
before stooping to adjust the wheel.
I’d imagine that cut finger on its bed
of hacked grass. I’d gaze at the pickles,

the dripping ketchup. I’d go white. You’d laugh
and say, Oh, Hell! Hey! Any day
above ground is a good day!
You lived past ninety, held my daughter,
your only great-grandchild.

She doesn’t recall you as rough or mild
or remember you at all. Now, though, I can read
what you chose to blur or cut off from view.
Suffice to say, your father could be tough
and tan your hide no matter what you’d do.

Yet you survived, decided to join
a burly brotherhood, the fraternal Elks,
a new Order. Grandpa, now I can see you in that mirror
behind the bar, flipping a silver coin
in merriment—Protective and Benevolent.

Leslie Schultz

In 2016, I published a collection of elegies that included one for my paternal grandmother (“Green Grapes”) but not one for Grandpa Schultz. This winter, I have finished–well, all but the final polish!–a crown of sonnets for this grandfather’s grandfather, a Civil War veteran. Last week, I dreamed about Grandpa Schultz. In my dream, he was shouting. Last night, I talked about that with my sister–and so, today’s prompt could not have been more timely for me. And, perhaps, for him.  Leslie
Image result for Public domain photos of Elks Clubs

(To the best of my knowledge, this image is in the public domain.)

Check out other participants at the NaPoWriMo Challenge 2017 home site!

Supernova News Flash! My Collection of Poems is Published

Books Arrive Seven

It is here at last! This book of poems has taken my whole life to distill. Here is a closer look at the front and back covers.

schultz Da

schultz back cover feb 25

Poet and publisher Karen Kelsay, who helms Kelsay Books and its imprint, Aldrich Press, did an incredibly beautiful job with the photo and text I provided. (The photograph was taken last summer in Lanesboro, Minnesota.) Her company’s intention is to “transform manuscripts into works of art.” Take a look at her other publications; her lists are filled with wonderful titles to choose from, including Sally Nacker’s Vireo (2015), one of my very favorites.

Four of the elegies included in this collection have been published on Winona Media this spring (take a look at “Poems for Northfielders”.)

If you would like your own copy, you can order one on Amazon (and peek inside at a few poems.) Or join me at Content Bookstore in Northfield on Thursday, May 5, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.– Content Bookstore has instituted a monthly poetry reading/open mike series. I will be the featured poet for May, reading a number of selections from this book. If you like what you hear, you can take home an inscribed copy. You can even step up to the podium and read one of your own poems if you’d like to!

Thank you for sharing my excitement–I will be sharing word of another poetry endeavor for April– National Poetry Month — later in the week.


Book on Piano