In the seventies my grandpa, Lou
Was what you would call
An eccentric man.
Who happened to be
A regular at the
And somewhat of
A ladies man.
And in the nineties
Lou met a women named
Zoey, she held his
Heart in her hands
Every night the sun went
Into hibernation, but for
Many months she couldn't
Escape the thought that Lou wasn't
Real, but rather a figment of her imagination,
She in fact went crazy with this thought.
Lou told the authorities
And had her wheeled away.
According to my grandpa
Lou, she now lives in a
Zoo, where she resides in a
Habitat made out of sticks and glue,
Every person stops to stare
Into her bleak eyes, where apparently
Magnificent birds now mimic her
Every move, but for
Right now, at this moment,
She truly only resides in;
I know his body is tired and his hair is grey with the weight of time and knowledge
but I want to ask him to stay
I want to run my hands through his hair a little longer
because he looks as innocent as his name
I want to ask him not to leave me yet
But I know he's not mine, I knew from the moment I met him that he's only here for a certain amount of time
I want to hold back the tears as I look at him in the eyes
He's too good, too kind and I know it's almost time for him to go
I hope he knows that I loved him until the very last second
until his eyes couldn't focus on a thing anymore
until the moment where his heart gave up on him
until the last beep of that damn machine
I hope he's some kind of proud
I hope he once loved me too
Ask me who is the most generous man I know and I shall speak his name
Ask me who is the most humble man I know and him I shall acclaim
Ask me who is the most altruistic man I know and his face shall be on the frame
Ask me who is the most kindhearted man I know and you will hear his name again
In my life, I've never met anyone like him again
A man devoted to his family and his community
Always preaching the word of God and leading us to felicity
Always ready to sacrifice his needs for the sake of love and unity
He taught us family, love, fraternity, forgiveness, religion, compassion, tolerance, peace and generosity
I am who I am today thanks to his teachings
He was a leader, a guide, our role model
There is no one like him
He was a father, a brother, a friend, a companion, a grandfather
16 years since he is gone but his words still resonate like thunder
You are no longer here but your teachings linger
A man who was not afraid to cry when needs be but also not afraid to yell and impose order
Always playful with kids and receptive and caring with adults
I feel privileged and lucky to have known him and call him grandpa
For in my life he has played a huge and special part
The memories I will treasure and keep them in my heart
Although he is gone, we will always be together
And his spirit will live on in each one of us forever
From where he is, he is protecting us and guiding us on our way
He is praying for us everyday
He used to pray God "Let it be I who fall sick instead of one of my family member. Let it be I who die instead of someone in my family."
What kind of man wishes for that, you ask.
Someone special I will say, a man of love
And I would like to thank God above
For blessing us with this man, with his kindness and love
I truly believe that God has gifted him with something special
He taught us not to let this world be in our heart for it is not eternal
I know he is in a better place
Watching us all with a smile on his face
I hope we are making you proud from where you are
We are still crying an ocean of tears
As we feel so empty and hold many fears
If I could just turn back the time to those days you used to laugh with us and made us feel so special and loved
Those days you pretended to be in pain when we stepped on your feet while we were playing
Those days when they were only you and us in the room with your half covered grey and curled hair
Those days we used to watch tv together and whenever there was an intimate scene you screamed your favorite word "Touc" and scared us (not that I know what it means)
Time will heal so they say
And time fades away
While a part of us is taken away
I know we will meet again one day
But until that day
Know that you are truly missed
Mame Alassane Lahi whom we affectionately called Mame Rane
I ask, puzzled.
He squinted like he was looking at something far away but could't see it. He pushed his small brown rimmed spectacles up the bridge of his nose, stroking his white beard.
"I couldn't tell you that. You must look inside yourself.. There is the time and place you will find the answer you are looking for."
And he vanished, as fast as he had died the last time.
The pair of spectacles were all that remained, glinting in the sun on mothers old wooden dresser.
"I will grandpa.. I will."
Papa showed me the way
to the wild blueberries.
We hiked up the tall hill,
and found those sapphire
spheres hanging from
He told me stories of
our Native American ancestors
as he taught me how to pick
surely a lesson in gathering
like this goes centuries beyond
our two lives combined!
handfuls and filled our
mouths with the sweetest
blueberries I had ever tasted.
Once we had our fill, we
gazed out upon the horizon
and admired the beauty of the
ancient forest, then we returned
down the dusty trail, climbed
into the truck, and drove away.
Bent like an ancient oak with rivulets of
A simpler time
Running deep through etched lines
And leathered hands whose grasp tells stories
Of cows, and dirt, and constant work;
A lifetime of losses buried beneath the skin,
And in the earth.
Warm the way he coddles my babies,
Tussles their hair and stares
As if cradling diamonds laid bare
Against his work-worn arms.
Laughing, his eyes dance from face to face
As if he can trace the cords that tie,
That bind and intertwine,
So many generations.
Worn thin and torn, that same old shirt, those wrangler jeans,
Socks pulled up to his knees,
And a ratty baseball cap, covered in grease;
It still reads, “Hereford beef.”
And now, the ashes of a cigarette, a favorite coffee mug,
The scent of hay, the settled dust,
muddy footprints on the rug
In a quiet house,
For grandpa to win this bout,
To overcome the longest drought,
The meanest stud,
The cancer that cripples him up
In a hospital far away.
My grandpa who eats steamed sweet potatoes on foothills textured in green rice patties
dreamt up a tall brick house with a black iron gate
barbwires sprung around the tips of the entrance to keep out thieves
right now he wonders how long he can keep fibbing to my mother—
their rotten hut at the end of the massive foothill, not fleeting
monsoons come early, swells the ground till it gave
a landslide takes four people and a child
that day, red stars hung above Tiananmen square gates
grounded bones came in sacks, white cement hauled by green skin trucks
My grandpa who loves sweet potatoes constructs an ivory wall.
after the revolution, the sun peeks out in montages
peering through the smoke
gunpowder stuck to the tank tire roads
black heads roll off yellow tar dirt into a pit
My grandpa gives his best friend one thousand yuan—
visas for my mother and grandma,
His best friend disappears,
writes my grandpa
an apology and, leaves him a large white sack of uncooked sweet potatoes
light tan, severs in half and plops down on the lumpy cutting board,
dusty orange inners, grandpa tosses them in the boiling water
and later, while gnawing down,
he pretends they are oranges for once
Grandpa, who’s kneeling on our dried front yard with a worn out copper pail
waters the salty earth slowly until it sprouts sugar canes
chops one down, breaks it in half, the sun beats
peering through palm leaves
a viridescent river of silk and pale honey
my small three year arms grab a hand full
sliced by grandpa into pieces neatly placed
in a blue flowered ceramic bowl
years later, I chop a stalk down and chew until
English becomes a second language again
and in my twenties, I grab a hand full
sliced my mom into pieces, places them in a weaved basket
made of reinforced bamboo
I put it in front of my grandpa’s grave
in Fujian on the foggy mountainside of a small retirement town.
The edge of the South China coast covered in a thick plastic smog,
I sit on a stone eating sweet cold potatoes with my grandpa facing outland,
a red kneeing sun, barely visible past the trees
How are you?
Is heaven as good as they say?
I know you left me nine years ago
But, It was my birthday
So I thought I should write
Are there plenty of fishing holes?
How's Grandma doing?
I miss you.
I think about you all the time
I lay in my bed and think of all the fun we had
I miss you so much
I miss the way you smelled like strong coffee
The light scent of Grandma's tobacco
Your tan skin speckled with spots
Your silver hair
The watch that was twice the size of my wrist
The oil spots on your clothes
The dust on your boots
The grey plaid cowboy shirt
With the pearly snaps
How tall you were
Your hands held up against mine
Calloused and huge
Your raspy but soothing voice
The way you lifted me up
The way you read silly story books to me
Made me giggle like crazy
How you encouraged me
Gave me Catapillar trucks for Christmas
How immovable, and solid
I remember the day you cam home with a broken leg
They don't know how or why you went
They said the brain
I say it was the heart
I miss you