The Tower Journal

James Piatt

My Grandfather

It was oatmeal, and cornmeal muffins with
honey for dinner, once again: Grandfather was
saving the fried chicken for tomorrow night. I
didn’t mind the oatmeal with cream and honey,
but to this day, I still don’t like cornmeal in
nything. I didn’t slept much at night when I
stayed overnight, grandfather’s clock clanged
each half and full hour throughout the night. I
usually heard each clang until it was after 3
O’clock in the morning. I could hear my
grandfather snore most of the night too,
seemingly shaking the plates and cups on the
small scarred kitchen table, but eventually I got
used to that too. The couch I slept on was
lumpy and grandfather’s hovel was cold and
drafty. Even with a heavy wool Army blanket, I
felt the chill of the incoming fog: In spite of the
cornmeal muffins, snoring, cold, and clanging
clock, I wouldn’t have traded sleeping over with
my quaint grandfather for anything.

His bedroom was gaudy with vividly colored
religious shawls hanging on the walls. I learned
many years later, that a huge silk horoscope
hung on the wall back of his bed. It always
intrigued me to no end. Grandfather was an
intenerate Pentecostal healing minister, a fact
which I didn’t understand at the time, probably
still don’t. The Mexican women in the
neighborhood always loved him, with his old
fashioned pen striped dark blue suite, his only
one, his pocket watch tucked into a small
pocket, hanging from a fob, and his high top
soft leather shoes which he laced up with an
ivory lacer. He never worked, unless you could
consider preaching for free, work, but he
always said God would provide, and it seems
he was right, for he always had a place to stay,
albeit lacking in most amenities, and his
Mexican women always had meals and, often,
a pie or cake for him, especially when I visited
him on special days. Those were exceptional
times, and I still miss seeing him, but I am
eminded of him every time I hear his clock,
which is now sitting on the fireplace mantel in
my living room, chime every half and full hour
throughout the day and night.

Vanishing Time

In the fading hours of the magenta dusk,
curious trees in the apple orchard spin… the
meadows below the ecru hills whirl in my mind
to a shadowy golden hue; the umber earth then
vanishes into the shadows and tedium of

I smell the sere earth, no longer damp, and life
giving…merely coffee colored dust and rusted
strangeness. I watch the slow whisperings of
the final moments of the day diminishing into the
heated rays of the fading summer sun.

My thoughts travel to childhood things…
special moments hidden deeply in memories…
I sense faintly, youthful murmurings and feel a
long gone calm. Oh to be young, and carefree
again without the world’s experiences, and
man’s biased knowledge:

The sudden shifting of days and nights,
ambiguous alterations in the air, and disquiet in
my flesh and bones, foretell the coming of a
new time… one of shuffling feet, gray hair,
vanishing reality, aching joints, and
recollections lost.

Where do we go from here, from this pleasant
place of constant familiarity… from the safety
of that which is known? It is the hidden aspect
of the unknown, which now beckons us: It is a
place, of which we have heard, but never
experienced, except in the darkness of the
apse, and our nightmares.

Is the place one of light, or darkness, one of
ancient verses and beautiful songs of angels,
or merely nothingness, covering a pine box
filled with our ashen bones? Therein lies life’s

The Dark Place

There is a place deep inside my being,
where darkness lives, a place filled with
threatening memories.

The hills in the distance, now brown, a
place where present and past memories
collide in a cacophony of displaced ecru
painted sadness.

I amble in rock-lined paths once familiar,
where old eyes stared and now gone,
walked in the light.

Cast out dark memories: Bath me with
warmth, bright sun, so the childish mind
of my youth can blossom again and
reveal all the sweet hours gone by.

Come back to me special images
remove the black scenes when my heart
had wept: Hearken to my plea, don’t
vanish into the darkness of night; don’t
take away the remnants of the glint of
youth that I still feel in my fading soul.

Splintered Grief

I hear saddened rhymes
Falling like burnt leaves upon
Withered loam in a place
Where lost souls listen to the
Empty notes on a rusted lyre
Played by a cheerless bard:
Where in this garden of
Strident supplications can
One find silence?
Where in this place of
Cloistered minds can one
Find truth?
The world in its paleness
Hides the beauty of
Lilacs and the aroma of
Transgressions are caused
By forgoing
That which is beautiful,
Replacing it with that which is
Disturbingly tedious,
Interweaving it with anxiety and
That, which is incongruous
To serenity: Happiness
Is pillaged by the world’s
Depression, trembling with
That which is spiritually fruitless:
In essence, too many are hopelessly
Staggering through life in a
Sere meadow of dead flowers
And weeds, waiting unconsciously
For a cement grave of splintered

The Chaotic Currents in My Mind

Rushing waves burst over jagged rocks,
As the tumultuous sea
Tosses its white foamed face
High into the air:
The fleeting drops of brine
Upon my face,
Awaken my drifting senses.

The ever-moving current of the ocean,
Strident screams of darkness
Fleeing helplessly
Into the scorching sand; then
Visions of war
Stream recklessly, into the crevices, of my soul.
The ocean tide wanes, then
Blue-green spirals of inexhaustible
Hours of the unending current’s motion
Wash salty dreams into my being, which
Vanish into the chaotic rhythms of my mind.

Hours That Guide the Day

A tear has fallen softly
From a flower on the arbor,
A beautiful crimson rose
Clinging to memories that I harbor:

Dry lemon balm and chocolate
Mint are weeping in dry loam,
Aromatic scents long gone that
Covered the garden at our home:

The sweet bouquet of roses and,
Herbs have also faded away, the
Garden is empty now as are the
Final hours that guide the day.

Help Me

Help me to understand

The splendor of silence,
The aroma of happiness,
The joy of solitude,
The reason for sadness,
The depth of love,
The serenity of a brook,
The hopefulness of tomorrow,
The radiance of a red rose,
The clarity of truth,
The humility of a nun,
The piety of a priest,
The honesty of a child,
The power of the ocean,
The beauty of honesty,
The meaning of dreams, and
The luxury of aging well;
For in the knowledge of
These things, I will be
Able to unearth the obscure
Passageway to happiness…

Copyright © 2014 James Piatt

James PiattJames Piatt earned his BS and MA from California State Polytechnic University, and a doctorate from Brigham Young University. Two of his relatives, John James Piatt and Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt, were prolific poets who wrote their poetry in the eighteen hundreds; their poetry has influenced his style of poetry. He is retired now and spends his summers alongside a river, reading, writing, and penning poetry. He has had over one hundred and fifty poems published in dozens of print and electronic poetry magazines, journals and anthologies; Tower Journal, Contemporary American Voices [featured poet], Long Story Short [featured poem], Vox Poetica, Pens on Fire, Word Catalyst Magazine [featured poet], Kritya: A Journal of Poetry, Taj Mahal, and Phati’tude Literary Journal [Interviewed poet] are just a few.

The Tower Journal
Fall/Winter 2014