Friday, February 21, 2014

The Owl Ashtray (A Poem)

It was the first thing I noticed
In a too-crowded moving box
Full of my father’s old life,
Nestled like it was made to be
Lodged between the vintage razor
That shaved past so many days
Of my own childhood
Without my ever knowing
And the rotary phone whose
Clear, plastic wheel-of-fortune dial
Halted it’s spinning disk
Soon after the stroke-death
Of my late grandmother;
But neither of those twitched
My fingers to touch
Like the old ashtray,
It pulled into my memory
Like an old movie reel,
Black and white, though still vivid.
Twenty years of emptiness and I could
Still smell the burned history
Of my uncles evening Marlboros,
Smell the four half-drunk cups of coffee
Littering the morning end table,
Salty smell of bacon across the skillet,
My father tinkering in the kitchen,
My mother twitching in her sleep beside me,
And the morning radio show calling
Into the depths of my seven-year-old dreams
That the day was being born,
Colors of the summer day awaiting me impatiently,
Porch swing chains cooing their call
Beneath a country-tick cloud roll,
the red-locust buzz pulling my
Drowsy eyes toward an open window.

written for a prompt at dVerse Poets.


  1. you def. brought the scene alive... love all the little details and it reminded me of the ashtray my father used as was one that would spin and the cigarette stump would disappear in its black womb... i literally could feel the scent on my tongue

  2. I think you generated so much good memory from that ashtray.. amazing.. those night you shared listening to your mother....

  3. lots of cool memories attached to this ...tangible aunt that kept us as kids when we got home from school used to have a crystal one.....

  4. Keep putting pieces of your life on paper (computer)...your well written story is full of nostalgia for an important figure in your indeed have a lot to say

  5. What a perfect poem involving all the senses to draw out those memories. The razor made me think of my grandfather's straight razor and strap.

  6. Even before I got to the bit about your smell memory, mine was activated! A very evocative poem, personal and universal at once.

  7. By sharing your memories, you took me back into my own child...and some similar memories came to mind. I too remember those porch swings, the radio programs, and various coffee cups. And, ah, the rotary phone...definitely a bit of history that today's youngsters will never know.

  8. Oh how I love this poem, full of vivid memories - sense memories - and then the actual ones, the seven year old waking to the new day. Just wonderful to read!

  9. A poem with a pulse! I really like how you set up the scene looking into the box!


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