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Grey Sparrow Journal and Press, as of January 31, 2018 will move to

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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I’m back in my hometown, walking up

Bridge Street past the St. Regis

paper mill where my grandfather punched

the clock until he retired.  It’s been

too long since I’ve visited my grand-

parents—weeks, or even months.

I think of them in their house

across the alley from the park,

in pine and cedar shade where those

two old people live in the gathering

silence of the end.  My grand-


mother with her social hunger,

my grandfather with his Milwaukee

Journal and cigar. . . What if they

should think I don’t love them? 

The pain hits like an ax-blow.

I resolve to go knock on their door

immediately.  Some weight swings to,

re-balances heaven and earth.

I can’t tell whether I’m awake

or still asleep when I realize

they’ve been dead for decades.


Dear grandmother and grandfather,

forgive the complaining when your

son, my father, sent me over

to mow your lawn, rake

your leaves, shovel your sidewalk!

I couldn’t imagine all three

of you gone.  I am better for living,

though not in time to give you

the reverence which was your due
and which I kept hidden

from myself in my heart. 


—Thomas R. Smith