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Tuesday, February 13, 2007


by Barbara Cogswell

There’s this photograph of Pop, young, standing
at attention with his National Guard Unit,
his eyes purposefully intimidating, focused
straight into the camera. Another,

with his high school football team,
helmet under arm, dark curly hair in view,
this time smiling, relaxed. More like
the pleasant man who made the perfect

Oatmeal. He measured water and salt,
tasted it, adjusted the flame, and made
sure it reached the table hot and creamy.
A Roosevelt Democrat, he passed

those values on to me, took part
in the Ford strike, the one in Kansas City.
I wear his badge from time to time, in tribute
to the man he was. Later, he voted for Eisenhower,

(had grown to look a bit like him, in fact).
We differed over politics, civil rights,
the war in Vietnam. When those four
students were shot on campus at Kent State

he thought they all should have died,
called them sons a bitches, traitors.
He’s dead now for thirty years.
I make perfect oatmeal for myself

now, I measure, salt, taste, and I think of him,
the oatmeal in my mouth difficult to swallow.
Standing at the sink, I feel the crosshairs
of his National Guard Focus directly on my heart.

Barbara Cogswell, a 74 year old member of Grandmothers for Peace, only recently realized her talent for poetry. She occasionally attends a Wednesday Afternoon Workshop convened by Don Campbell.