Homage To An Avuncular Neighbor – John Michael Flynn

 

At ten I brought him my new

Boy’s Life each month

to share a survival story or two.

 

He did the talking

mostly about the Pacific theatre.

He knew war, didn’t like or glean any sense from it.

 

I did more than listen to his silences.

I grew wiser within them.

I brought their lessons to my father.

 

On sunny days we mowed and raked his lawn.

All winter long I helped him

shovel his drive.

 

Today, I learned he died in bed

while his wife was baking zucchini bread

for an annual church function.

 

His daughters and grand-children

were far away.

No game on TV. No warning.

 

Just the week before, I’d held his ladder in place

while he’d nailed above his garage door

a big wooden yellow butterfly

 

that he’d cut, designed

and painted himself.

He called it Easter Light.

 

headshotjohnmflynnIn 2015, John Michael Flynn was an English Language Fellow with the US State Department at the Far Eastern State University in Khabarovsk, Russia. He is now back home in Virginia, where he teaches English part-time at Piedmont Virginia Community College. His most recent poetry collection, Keepers Meet Questing Eyes, is available from Leaf Garden Press. You can learn more about John and his published work at www.basilrosa.com.

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Pumpkin Breath – John Michael Flynn

 

Across my palms, skin has swelled in lumps

crackled like these pumpkins around us.

I try to lift one and imagine the face I’ll carve.

A pebbled orange orb, it drops rotten from its hooked stem.

Its smell is foul, its seeded shards like wet pottery.

Not that one, but there are others to bring home.

 

We walk further down the row. Around us, blue hills rise.

I fall out of rank from the explosive legion

of voices that tends to invade quietude in such settings.

I squeeze my wife’s hand, hear again a word I cannot define.

It’s like an aunt dead and buried,

the one I’ve got a picture of but have never met.

 

What is it about such a word and its elusive associations?

I pause a moment. Neither of us speak.

We watch a small wind lift dust and fumes of fertilized soil.

I turn to her. She smiles shading her eyes from autumnal light.

Ambiguities remain. Doubts will come and go.

Ephemeral simplicities renew us.

 

headshotjohnmflynnIn 2015, John Michael Flynn was an English Language Fellow with the US State Department at the Far Eastern State University in Khabarovsk, Russia. He is now back home in Virginia, where he teaches English part-time at Piedmont Virginia Community College. His most recent poetry collection, Keepers Meet Questing Eyes, is available from Leaf Garden Press. You can learn more about John and his published work at www.basilrosa.com.