Princeton Poem by Rev. Dr. A. Jacob Hassler


Rating: 3.4

i remember that mild summer’s day
in Princeton
the wind pushing
the sweet smell of the country thru
heavy green leaves
dad told nanna he was
going to see poppa
nanna's face bent into
a downcast smile
she said “before you go...”
as she and dad talked
nanna cut a cluster of stems
from her bursting rosebush,
clipped the thorns, and
handed the roses to dad
“...take these with you”

i went with dad
so did my brother
we hadn't seen poppa in years
he was a faint memory who
mostly smiled at us
from old photo albums
that was poppa
so we talked all the way up
the hot asphalt road
as dad carried the roses
clutched tightly to his abdomen
in a thick fist
the look on his face
was chiseled stern
like a warm piece of
somber granite

my brother and i were
in tow of his long shadow
where we chased each other
and tugged on Dad’s sleeve
but he paid us no mind
we walked through the schoolyard
swingsets and monkey bars
and across a brown paper field
set aflame by wild dandelions
i didn't know we had to
walk so far to see poppa
i would have taken my bike
the field became different suddenly
the brown grass was vibrant, greener
and all around us sprouted
rows of headstones and grave markers with flags

one of them bore poppa's name
my brother and i cut short our frolic
and watched silently
while dad set Nanna’s roses in the vase
and his stone face
crumpled like a wet rag
i think i had only seen him
cry once before:
years ago after we heard
poppa had died

my brother and i stood there
watching dad weep
while i prayed with all of the
strength in my young body
that we could see poppa again
dad mumbled a few soaking prayers
then quietly, among the rustling trees
and chirping robins,
my brother and i
followed dad's sad shadow home

Mahnaz Zardoust-Ahari 18 October 2005

Very somber poem Jake.....Sad thing to go visit a grave when it is someone you love. Nicely written.

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Poetry Hound 29 September 2005

I think the narrative style you chose works well with this kind of material rather than gussying it all up with alliterations and wordplay. Well done. Serious subject leavened by telling it through the eyes of a kid.

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Allan James Saywell 29 September 2005

is that you jacob the same jacob i used to know a great job on a difficult subject you have hit the bulls-eye i thought it was herbert writing you have grasped a similar style, that flows on and reaches a climax at just the right moment Warm regards allan

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wow...sweet....if you can be gives me a new goal to strive for....

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Mary Nagy 29 September 2005

This is so sad Jake. You have really put me there at the graveyard with him. Such a touching poem. I'm am truly impressed. Sincerely, Mary

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