To Make the Crooked Straight

For the want of a nail…Creative Commons License Jim « JP » Hansen via Compfight

The last few days I’ve been visiting the family cabin in the north woods. A small place with an outdoor privy, it was built from local tamarack and spruce logs in the late 1940s. While it isn’t fancy, it is filled with all sorts of memories of my extended family. Here’s a poem about my grandfather that tries to be about more than a can of old nails.

To Make the Crooked Straight

On a rusty metal shelf
that stood on the dirt floor
of the shed behind the house:
three rusted Arco cans
filled with bent nails
pulled from a thousand used boards,
and, also, with hope —
to save the unsavory
to make the crooked straight
once again.

– Steve Peterson

Small-Town Illinois Boy, 1974

Via Unsplash

Small-Town Illinois Boy, 1974

Some time it was,
it was a time of
muggy summer nights,
a yellow-moon that shone
through the corn-haze, past the
pulsing cicadas. Alice Cooper
yowled from the window
of a Mustang that crept
under the arching elms.
The red glow of a cigarette.
A tobacco threat exhaled
through the window into
the thickening air.
These bad boys of summer
are old and gray. Their
swagger sags. From the porch
couch, they watch the world pass by,
wondering if the kids will
finally call, or if they should
just pop another beer and be
done with it for the
rest of the evening.

– Steve Peterson