Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: John Ziegler

Table of Contents


Luther was a distant father,
away in his own deep music.

He spoke of his own father
fitted in a soft, white shirt, trimmed nails,
smooth palms of a baker,
though he was not a baker.

He owned a small downtown cafe,
bought on a whim,
noticed through the rainy window
of the trolley car
on which he was the conductor.

He was tired of conducting.

He spoke of serving tea
to Pearl Fox, woman of the night,
in his father’s restaurant in 1935,
the iron sounds from the steel mill
across the river,
near the slaughterhouse.

He spoke of his young brother Paul,
who bought him a violin
when father would not.

He spoke of himself as a young man
among old men
in the barber’s chair,
the strop hanging from the cabinet,
the straight razor on his cheek,
warm shave foam with its saddle soap aroma.

I remember him in our basement,
the floor of packed earth and coal dust,
a damp odor embedded
in the crumbling gypsum walls,
polishing my shoes on Sunday morning.


In the chilly morning
Ernest humps oaken casks
of sweet briny oysters
down the brick cellar steps.

With a short stiff blade
he pries the shells apart,
once in a while slurps one,
cool and slippery
down the hatch.

Up In the kitchen
Pop breads them
with egg wash, and crumbs,
one wet hand one hand dry,
then slides them into hot amber oil.

Brother Abe, white apron, white mustache,
delivers them on a platter
with a blue anchor imprint
on the white rim.

The stout derbied diner
tucks his bib,
eager at the round table
by the tall window.

Crisp, glorious, nut brown,
a yellow wedge of lemon,
a few salty crackers.


John Ziegler is a poet and painter, a gardener, a traveler, originally from Pennsylvania, recently migrated to a mountain village in Northern Arizona.

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