Below are the all-time best Judith Angell Meyer poems as chosen by PoetrySoup members
Judith Angell Meyer
That he planned his funeral is factual
And being a prankster quite actual
He prerecorded his voice
So when we kneeled on the joist
He said, "Hi there! Don't I look natural."
Her journey begins.
Moving through soft veils and mists,
Kahlua drizzled on top
Ice cream sliced like pie.
Dark fudge floats in the center.
Crumbled oreo crust
Floating in hot fudge.
I met Uncle August on my honeymoon.
I was prepared.
“He won’t talk to you," my new husband told me.
"He’s a cantankerous old man,
so don’t be hurt, he doesn’t talk to anyone.”
He was in his 70's.
I was 20.
He was ill.
He was right where I was told he would be,
sitting at a long wooden table in a large kitchen.
One that had fed large families
and farm workers
His arms were spread out to his sides
enlarging his lung cavity
so he could breathe easier.
His head was hung between his shoulders;
a long crooked ash hung
at the end of his lit cigarette
between gnarled and stained fingers.
He looked up to me when I was introduced and he talked.
We talked and laughed,
for two hours.
Thirty-seven years later his nephew,
at his long wooden kitchen table,
elbows extended so he could breathe,
Oxygen snaking its way into ruined lungs,
head hung low,
trying to nap.
Was he remembering Uncle August?
Unable to breathe
paramedics took him away.
He never came home.
His children said their tearful goodbyes —
and now they wait
to take their place
at the long wooden kitchen table.
Christmas of my tenth year brought a four-ten shotgun.
No longer a tag-along kid
Assaulting the deep drifts struggling to keep up,
But a real hunting buddy.
First rule was to memorize the ten commandments of gun safety.
I labored with those rules.
Would we ever really go hunting?
We would go to the sand pits for target practice.
I could shoot good.
Then began lessons to drive.
Not really drive, but just as Daddy showed me,
I would, with exaggerated movements, put the car in forward,
Then reverse, and move it back and forth a few feet.
Stretching my spine to its straightest to see over the wheel,
And my toes to their longest to reach the clutch and break.
The makings of very heady stuff for such a little person to control a great monster
I drove great adventures in those back and forth few feet.
I didn’t really comprehend what he meant
When he told me I might be the only one
To drive for help in case of an accident.
So I learned, and loved the driving too.
It made me more and more my daddy’s boy,
And more and more impatient for the day to come.
The car mastered,
We headed home from the sand pits.
The day was gray and damp and promising snow.
The car heater blasting back the cold.
Cheeks stinging with color,
I would finally, slowly, pull from memory each word of each rule,
Adding a definition in my own ten year old words.
With ear crushed to my bedroom door,
I strained with every fiber to hear Daddy’s muffled tones.
He told Mom he was going hunting in the morning.
Then with breath caught up in lungs so tense they hurt,
Eyes squinted so closed it forced a tear,
Just as if I made it happen, he added,
“I’ll be taking Judy.”
My son is out fixing up the shed.
Winter is coming on. Needed doing he said.
He had the time and the bound-to’s.
I’m not used to this thought process, I’m not. Not from a child.
I watch him for a while.
Opening and closing gates as needed.
The dust, sifted into powder from summer’s heat, poof’s with his steps.
The heels of his jeans dragging strings on the ground, erase the tread of his
The shed is old. There is algae or lichen on the north side boards,
where the wood is splintery gray.
Some of the lichen florets are the color of sage, some the color of a bright orange
Circled with gray ones and black, their life cycle played out.
He hammers nails and screws in screws while holding boards in place.
Sweat glistening where skin is exposed, making long dark stains in his black
Veins standing out against the strain, and
Muscles laboring to prove he can do the job well, without a mother’s help.
While he works I think about his father and how differently they work.
His father preferring team work and orchestrated smooth motion
working side by side, no extra movements – and he whistled.
My son needs to prove his skills first – alone.
The shed is done and it will brave another winter, keeping the horses sheltered
from the elements.
The wind, snow and horses milling about, will obliterate the trail of pant cuffs,
Along with the memory of one cool day at the end of summer,
When a man worked hard to rebuild their shelter.
Mask of Childhood
and Youth —
A Dreamer I am
An adventurer I am
Telling stories with crayon
Riding my Pony into the wind
Bashful I am – smiling at a boy
Inching toward the responsibilities of womanhood.
Busy Mask of
Loving I am – a man
Passing dreams to children
Adventures encouraging children
Telling stories – now with Paint
Teaching my children how to ride into the wind
Moving toward independent womanhood.
Mask of the
Old — Saying goodbye I am – To my heart / man / boy
But a dreamer I am – still
An adventurer I am – always
Telling stories with poetry and paint
Tending my pony as we remember riding into the wind
Slowly moving toward final goodbyes ....
Owing you a letter,
A postcard for now.
I picked the one with a bright red tulip,
I thought about your yellow ones,
The ones with red streaks.
They sound beautiful.
My tulip plants have two buds.
But was sun bleached pink,
The other didn’t open at all.
The drought still takes it’s toll,
Even into spring.
Columns of trees, holding the wainscoting ceiling for years;
Reflects his strength.
Wind now rips the bark from their bodies;
As illness wore away his vigor.
Tongue and grove floor laid lovingly,
painstakingly fitting it to the round bark wall-boards;
Mirroring the patience of guiding his children’s lives.
Freeze and thaw, warps and splinters the boards away from the wall;
Strong children move out on their own.
Wine barrel table and chairs,
Seats now weathered, torn and uncomfortable;
The consummate host - his family and friends leave with
laughter and peace.
His aura lingered for a long time –
Sometimes, even now.
Yet once in a while –
As time, like the wind stealing small pieces –
It feels like the porch never was –
The bark worn smooth,
a scamper up.
Looking down takes my breath away.
Leveling off, I’m safe in the cockpit.
Flying the Iowa skies, way above the tassels,
Control panel at my fingertips.
Spreading my wings and charging the clouds.
Birds skimming by.
The branch cradling my adventure
back firmly against the trunk,
sun over my shoulder.
Apple blossom shadows on my arm.
Between petals and freckles,
bright spot lights of sun
sparkle on my skin.
The petals are so pretty.
I pick a bouquet,
shinny down the tree, and
bring apple blossoms home to my mother.