Tin Man Heart


Thanksgiving Eve

an untimely tragedy

left my father fatherless

and you the only grandpa I ever knew.


Model airplanes on wire,

Posters of cars, Hawaii.

Jam jars of nails and screws.

Drill press

Band saw

Pine planks

Light bulb glow on sawdust drifts.

Miniature engine parts,

boxed beside piles and piles

of Popular Mechanic.


1966 Chevelle.

Three on the tree.

Dueled exhaust.

Cherry-bomb mufflers.

Your apple-red beauty,

polished to mirror

gentle hands,

oil-black and coarse.



The girl from Iowa

chose Spokane

and you.


One daughter,

a wealth of sons

to pass along your lessons

on the mechanics

of life and love.

A generation old enough

to tell of your mischief and kindness.

Babies too young to remember

your hazel eyes,

but small enough to wrap tiny fingers

around your thumb.



Frantic surgery.


You almost died.





a Tin Man heart.


Years and years and years,

mercy-filled and overflowing.

Moments of fragility,



Your heart clocked a lot of mileage. More than we deserved.


Long, deep breaths.

An entire life lived in one valley.





From the doorway, they waved

until the car disappeared.

The last Schmidt wave,

but you were on the shores of Paradise.




Today you will be with me in Paradise.



Napping with Grandpa.


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