I like to say I’d an Egyptian father
If that is too obscure for you, I’d rather
Explain it just by citing preservation.
They preserved mummies, he his indignation
At how the world had gone awry, once all
Ethics, society had gone on stall.
My father then stepped gingerly among
Past trophies that his ancestors had won.
Hoping his prayer and reverence sufficed

He kept his world on track, but when it iced
Outside, you could not see the dated rocks
He placed beneath his trees and hollyhocks,
Each one a past indignity he buried
Within his boundaries. Although he was harried
By slings of life interred within his yard.
At least he had contained them. It was hard
For him, to live without what used to be–
His venue, and then have to deal with me.


A Violinist Reclaimed

Before self-righteous rules, brash and insistent
There was a natural rhythm, quite unspoken
So when my father hired an assistant
Traditionalist, he followed this, unbroken.

He brooked no power structure interference
No lying resumes or false confessing
To quasi-moral snoops. He just made sense
And went on instinct, and John’s salad dressing,

Which proved to be quite good. His violin
Then raised the bar for father on John’s score,
And entertaining tales that he could spin;
Confessing that he drank made even more
Sense. But when John said, inebriated,
He’d fallen on his violin and spun
Across the street, my father celebrated–
Exclaimed in joyous tones You are the one!

A kindred spirit hired, and in spades!
They worked together well for some decades.


The Holland Road Pines

Long rows of pines my father placed
On Holland Road are interlaced
With what he knew. I see them there;
He cannot know my backward stare.

I sense his purpose here. I read
His poetry, perceive his need
To leave a mark, that we may know
Time moves, although it is so slow

We barely know it takes us where
An aging footstep on a stair
Speaks volumes of the speed of night;
I see his trees, in fading light.

Published originally in Trinacria


A former Wilbur Fellow and six-time Pushcart nominee, Sally Cook is a regular contributor to National Review, and has appeared in venues as varied as Chronicles, Lighten Up On Line, and TRINACRIA. Also a painter, her present works in the style known as Magic Realism are represented in national collections such as the N.S.D.A.R. Museum in Washington, D.C. and The Burchfield-Penney, Buffalo, NY.

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7 Responses

  1. Dan Leach

    What a delight, Sally! The first two are exquisite examples of the kind of warm, good natured irony that I find all too lacking in the world today, and the last one is just a beautiful and haunting emotion, executed with such profound simplicity. It echoes in the heart–Thank you. Dan Leach.

  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    I chose “The Holland Road Pines” for TRINACRIA because I love tetrameter quatrains that rhyme AABB. They are chiselled and tight.

  3. James Sale

    Yes, all wonderful poetry, and Holland Road Pines is especially evocative and intense. It has a ‘Stopping by Woods’ feel to it. Marvellous poetry – thank you Sally.

  4. Wilbur Dee Case

    Ms. Cook’s memorable “The Holland Road Pines” is a marvelous look back at her father’s “poetry”. Mr. Sale perceptively noted the iambic tetrametre couplets are reminiscent of Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. I have to admit I did not at first see the linkage to Frost’s extraordinary masterpiece: “He cannot know my backward stare.” What actually came to my mind was Alexander Pushkin’s “I Have Visited Again”.

    Generally I do not appreciate enjambment in poetry, but here, surprisingly, it contributes to the heart-felt appreciation of slow time. This may be my favourite poem of Ms. Cook’s that I have read: its diction is spare, the rhyming quiet, and the tone’s remarkable reserve reminds me of poets, like Philip Larkin or William Stafford. It is amazing what Ms. Cook accomplishes with so little.


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