Tuesday, December 23, 2014


My mother’s father Joe and I didn’t suit each other
He was small and neat and had clever hands
As well as a suspicious mind. A watchmaker,
He thought the world did not keep accurate time;
Something wrong with the gears perhaps
Or – he deemed this likely – the Great Maker
Had put something into the works backwards

He took precautions; his own watch was always
Set fast so that he knew to never trust it
His brothers and sisters had been born
At European ports as his family slowly felt its was
Towards America. The eldest was Russian
There were Germans too, and one from Liverpool
Before my Grandfather, the New Yorker.

When Joe’s young wife died Ase, his brother,
Der Englisscher, took him in. Ase played poker
But for Joe he learned to play chess. Mabel,
Ase’s smart and stringy wife, did added cooking
And cleaning for two years until Joe could manage
Crookedly to survive. I am not sure
He ever managed to forgive them for this.

On his deathbed – my father was a witness –
Joe woke for a moment and muttered
“What a wonderful, wonderful world!”

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