There’s a wedding soon and we’re excited,
all the required functions are in place.
A daughter bride, I find it hard to hide
the pride I have for her. For sure she will
grace the life of her fine young man.
A lad of a Canadian clan and his tartan
is true. We view him as a wonderful addition
to our crew. By year’s end we will have
made familial friends across the Provinces,
from Ontario to Alberta, the Great White North
and her glories, our stories will compliment
each other. New found sisters and brothers
joined for a cause to much applause.
We can’t wait. It’ll be great. And so it goes.
The family grows.

(C) Walter J Wojtanik – 2017

Poetic Asides – 2017 November Chapbook Challenge – Day 21: Construction/Deconstruction


My children will say this of their Dad,
he was a kind and gentle soul.
He really wasn’t all that bad,
my children will say this of their Dad.
Full of mirth, yet sort of sad,
a perfect model in that role!
My children will say this of their Dad,
he was a kind and gentle soul.

(C) Walter J. Wojtanik

Poetic Asides 2017 April PAD – Day 13: Family


I saw my father this morning.
It caught me off guard,
without warning, without any
precognition. The man’s been dead.

Over ten years gone, and though
I long for one moment more,
it underscores my dilemma.
I saw my father this morning.

His craggy morning beard
clearly heard when he’d scratch his chin.
Internal debate whether to shave it,
or save it another day, who’s to say?

The wrinkles around his eyes
that grew greater when pater smiled.
He had a great smile, and while he was alive
would strive to flash it at every turn.

I’d learn his way and his charm came
along with his name, my grandfather
bore both, so I am told. Too old
to remember him, but dad was clear.

I saw my father this morning.
He of the wise old face and cleft chin,
he of the exuberant grin, carpenter hands
the texture of leather caused by weather and life.

Hard knocks smart, an old fart with humor
and the aplomb to use it, sometimes abuse it
along with us and my mother. A man of another
time and age, sage with advice and super nice

when the smoky brown bottle stayed away.
Not to say it was right, but it might explain
some of his apparent flaws. It gnaws at me.
I saw my father this morning.

The man’s been dead, that has been said.
But as I look in the mirror and scratch my craggy chin
in debate and count my crow’s feet framed eyes, I have to smile.
I saw my father this morning. I see him every morning.

(C) Walter J. Wojtanik

Poetic Asides 2017 April PAD – Day 13: Family



Sisters in the truest sense of the word.
Seven years removed, but time
has a way of balancing things.
Andrea two inches taller
than her older sister is more wise,
But, it comes as no surprise
how the chasm in time has found a way
to heal itself. Equals in every way,
sharing in a vague sense of the word, but
never at a loss for a friend.
Of a single mind and purpose,
they’ve worked out of the same closet,
and offered the support for
lives that have so far given
all they could have wanted.
Safe homes, a loving father,
a caring mother, and each other.
A brother in the husband Melissa brings,
with Andrea soon to add another “brother” to the mix,
siblings in tandem, the grandest expression of love!
Teacher and student, in no
particular order. Sister supporters,
Daddy’s “Little” girls.
In the garden of my life, my TWO American Beauty Roses,
Melissa and Andrea.

(C) Walter J Wojtanik

Poetic Asides 2017 April PAD – Day 13: Family



“…someone told me it’s all happening at the zoo!”
~ from Simon & Garfunkel’s “At The Zoo”
Cramped quarters, and crowded to overflow,
you never know how these things are planned.
As it would stand, the animals had little say.
It was sad and upsetting in a way,
that the keepers made the choices and
those without voices had little to say.
The variety of the species was intriguing,
in a league all their own, over-blown
in scope, and that left little to say.
Everyday, the wild ones were forced into domesticity,
a simplicity to those cracking the whip. The zookeeper
fond of rum indeed, due to breeding and nothing constructive to say.
Four young lions, strong in spirit and vision,
but always in division over their birth right
and wrong as it sounded, they had little to say.
Gazelles, graceful and girlish, flanked the habitat,
concerned with this and that, did strive to survive the onslaught,
but, they ought to have been allowed more to say.
When it was feeding time “at the zoo”, the milieu
benefited the fittest, as we crowded around the dinner table.
You could label us as you wish, but each dish had something to say.
Life at  “the zoo” offered sanctuary, with nary a worry,
for family gave you more than we “beasts” expected.
We were well protected, and that said it all.
(C) Walter J. Wojtanik


My earliest recollection was a connection with my mother. Soft, nurturing sounds that calmed and soothed. What did I know from words? There was something there that made me think…I like this sound. Humming. Singing. A language I would come to know as Polish, spoken from my parents to her immigrant father to communicate. No translation came; all the same it seemed strange all those years ago.

The static hum of something… shrill and powerful sounding, surrounding that little room in the basement where Dad carried in wooden boards and removed the most beautiful wooden things. A carpenter by skill, I learned the thrill of his obsession by the sounds his tools emitted. I came equipped with siblings, and they came with secrets whispered and demands shouted. Tearful emissions and admissions of fear and longing, the same as I had!

There were calls of “Hey Walleee!” at the back door of the house. Neighborhood kids spending childhood running wild, every child a brother or sister. As every one was someone’s daughter or son. And every mother was mom! Each connected to the other. A father’s whistle piercing and urgent. We all went running when that alarm went off! Or when the street lamps came on! Met by the sound of an open hand cutting air when we didn’t.

Alcohol laden tirades invaded on payday. A shot –and-a-beer mentality with all the vitality of a rampant bull in the china shop that was my adolescence. We waged battles and rebellions to save my mother’s psyche and my sanity. The vanity of thinking I could save the world. And iron rails, tracks bringing from there and taking from here and clear across the country, encircled my world. The sound of some steam and much diesel was pleasing to my ear. That clackety-clack brings me back every time I hear it. It was clear I had a passion for trains.

We welcomed the clank of pots and pans when my mother began to prepare our evening fare. It was there that the issues of the day played out. We were never without that blessing until that one Christmas Eve when her self-fulfilling prophecy came true. “One of these Christmases I’m going on a long trip and I’m NOT coming back!” The house was much quieter after that.

The neighborhood was as well. I can tell you when we had all grown and gone and Dad was left behind, I find my saddest memory lingers. Swollen fingers and legs and a cancer that begged for finality came at another Christmas time. Dad would soon follow mom and from then on, silence prevailed. The sound of the tumbler the last time the door was locked is my final recollection. Home became just a noisy memory then.

we hear sounds of love
wafting through our hearts and minds,
memories of home.

© Walter J. Wojtanik – 2016

NaPoWriMo 2016 – Day #18: “The Sounds of Home”


The days of him erupting were drawing to a close. Everybody knows that “death stare” hidden in every gasp and wheeze. It would have been easy to go out quickly than to have his candle flicker well into the afternoon. But the man had no quit. It was as if he were perpetual. Everlasting. More mountain than volcano. He was the rock upon which our family was founded. Strong, resilient, well-grounded. When his rumble finally ceased our number was decreased by one. But we lost so much more! One mighty volcano silenced. The last days of Pompeii.

Strength, solid and strong.
A long and storied legend
not lost in silence.

(C) Walter J. Wojtanik – 2016

Poetic Asides April Poem-A-Day Challenge 2016 – Day 12: “Last (Blank)


My older brother Paul and I would spent our time, taking hours to scribble and draw and doodle. I drew more than he scribbled, his artistic talent would come in wood (yes, another carpenter!) My skills came in the arts: music and sketching and writing and all that these disciplines would entail.

Never fail, on rainy days we’d wile away the day with page and pencil hoping to fill the blankness with something worth displaying on the refrigerator door. Our younger siblings thought we were bores. They just wanted to play! The youngest of the brood would complain “Paulie and Wally doodle all day!” She didn’t know why our mother always laughed at that!

Memories we share
stay etched in our hearts and minds.
We find comfort there.


More than five times have I been blessed,
from my vantage point, the middle man.

Two sisters and four brothers
all offspring of the same mother,

all with their quirks and styles,
(everyone with Dad’s smile) and

a completely separate branch on the family tree,
foliage gone, but the rings around the trunk

assure a longevity; a brevity in the span
of this vast universe so created, and elated

that we have come to reconnect at a time
where the incredible shrinking surname

wanes towards obscurity. A factual surety
that frames this portrait with love and understanding

no longer demanding and pompous, an enormous relief
in the belief that in assuming the mantle left behind

we will find our footing and map out new ground,
profound in the knowledge of our origin and happy

we were afforded the opportunity to flex our wile,
while never straying far from our connection.

Joseph, your history is our mystery. Not around long enough
to make a blemish, although leaving your mark on our fabric.

Cynthia, queen mother so assumed, groomed for the position
of matriarch with enough of a spark to be yourself.

Paul, sure and independent, most reticent to belong,’
too strong for your own damn good, a marvel with wood.

Tim, wild and free, determined to take life by the throat
and squeeze every ounce out of its living.

Ken, backbone in question, but heart always in place,
a face only a mother could love, (and she could have been jiving!)

Laurie, a singular soul, her only attachments are her siblings
and her felines, straddling the fine line of “Crazy Cat Lady”.

Where does that leave me? Walt the word guy, know-it-all,
writing the script that skirts dysfunction for the joy our bond provides.

NaPoWriMo 2016: Day Two: Family Portrait


my grandfather’s cigar,
aromatic and sweet.
held between his teeth,
an added appendage,
a trademark of sort.
by all reports, the cause
of the blaze in his back room.
no doom befalling, quickly
calling the fire department,
a quick dousing as delousing.
smoky haze through heater vents
was tell-tale. Without fail,
he quit smoking in the house.

~Walter J. Wojtanik

Poetic Asides by Robert Lee Brewer – prompt 306: Childhood