UNCLE FRANK HAD A LIMP

I knew him in his later years,
amidst fears of this craggy old-man
with the pronounced limp.
I had no knock against the man,
even though he tried prodding me into it.
“Knock on my leg!” he’d harass me,
and it would embarrass me to shy away.
He’d rap his knuckles against his shin.
The sound stayed with me. Knock on wood!
***
Old photographs of my grandmother
and her siblings emerge and a surge of
a phantom spasm rose up my right leg.
Uncle Frank and his dog in frame,
five legs and a wooden pole.
Legends find their truth; even in family re-telling.
Frank always explored the railroad tracks
that ran behind the house. Against all warning,
one morning they found a delirious Frank pleading,
bleeding profusely from his severed appendage.
On the flatbed of the family truck he was carted,
as he started begging his father not to punish.
My great-grandfather asked one question:
“After disobeying me, will you do it again?”
A lesson learned at a great price.
The resounding of knuckles against
a wooden prosthetic was punishment enough.

(C) Walter J. Wojtanik

Poetic Asides 2017 April PAD – Day 13: Family

CRITICAL CONDITION

The results from the lab were in, but they could not detect any regret in my voice. It had been my choice to stand by you; friends together, a second chance for us to right what so often had gone  wrong, one last time. Taking note of your fragility and your need for constant rest, the best I could do was to care for you and be true to our connection for your protection and my own. My conscience would not allow me to make that same mistake, where I took leave of my senses and you. Translated: your illness made me sick.

The SUNDAY WHIRL -  Wordle #117
The SUNDAY WHIRL –
Wordle #117

Copyright Walter J. Wojtanik 2013

Written for THE SUNDAY WHIRL – Wordle #117

Offered at POETS UNITED – Poetry Pantry #158

IN THEIR SHOES

Step by step, the journey begins. Strangers at this writing, but I know
the struggles you encounter are many. If any woman or man
insists they are aware, when they’ve never been there, well, I’m sorry.
Your story well neglected, should be projected for the world
to see. There may be bleeding hearts, but that never solves your plight.
It would be right for them to learn…

You are the young widowed mother who just learned
her heroic husband killed in Afghanistan, will never know
the child you bears. You stare at a photograph; it lightens
your heart, but you start to cry, not knowing why the man
who meant everything to you, was taken. He had given much to the world
without so much as a “Thank you” to him, or to you, an “I’m Sorry!”

You are the seasoned Grandfather sitting near the window, your sorry
existence in the nursing home has left you alone and scared. It was learned
your Alzheimer’s Disease has advanced and your family and your world
are non-existent memories. Gazing blankly at things you once knew
makes no impression. And your depression grows. You’ve become that man
who dimly sits where once your presence provided great light.

You are the bullied young teen, sitting in a light-less
room. Your struggle with your life corrodes internally. You are sorry
to be a “burden”. You hate that you are such an easy mark. You are a young man
unsure of his sexuality and searching for an identity. You hope to learn
that people are forgiving and understanding, if they only knew
that you were a rash decision away from leaving this world.

You are the woman who sits huddled with her young children whose world
came crashing down around them. You have nowhere to stay. Your only light
shines from the street lamp outside the city mission. You know
your condition plays out nationwide, but you hide your pride, sorry
you cannot provide what your kids need. You wish you could learn
of a way to step out of your destitution. You are a battered, broken woman.

So, before fingers point or hushed whispers glare, be there. Be the kind of woman or man
who takes the plight of the world
to your heart. It is only when we start to learn
of their wants and needs that we will indeed be the beacon bright, the light
that will show them that they are not forgotten. They should not apologize; not be sorry
that life has handed them an unplayable hand. In remembering them, they’ll know.

Know your fellow man.
This world belongs to all who possess it, no one should be sorry his or her lives shine less bright.
Learn to love as you have been loved. Help change their plight. Walk that mile.