Gil Hoy – Grandfather

Gil Hoy is a Best of the Net nominated Tucson, Arizona poet and writer who studied fiction and poetry at Boston University through its Evergreen program and The Writers Studio in Tucson, Arizona. Hoy previously received a B.A. in Philosophy from Boston University, an M.A. in Government from Georgetown University, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. Hoy is a semi-retired trial lawyer. His poetry and fiction have previously appeared in Bewildering Stories, Literally Stories, Tipton Poetry Journal, Unlikely Stories Mark V, Chiron Review, The Galway Review, Right Hand Pointing, Rusty Truck, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, The New Verse News, The Penmen Review, Misfit Magazine and elsewhere.


I found my grandfather’s
business card
in a black old box of family photos
in our attic.
The once durable 16pt card stock
was badly creased,
its letters worn and faded.
The man was a hero in my mother’s eyes.
I never felt like much by comparison.
The truth
is often less than the legend,
even if he did only finish the second grade,
could add up numbers faster than a computer,
built skyscrapers and homeless shelters
and had hundreds of employees
who loved him. Loved him like a father,
or a lover
or a son. Sixty years ago.
He died from smoke and too much whiskey
when I was just a little boy. So I never got to see
just how great
he really was
or really wasn’t.
He’s sometimes in my dreams.
I’m standing over his grave weeping.
I don’t know where the dead go
or if it’s best to forget them.
I’m glad I knew him.
I remember sitting on his lap
in my grandparents’ Florida sun room.
It was still dark outside. The sun
was just beginning to come up.
The air was filled with smoke.
A filter less cigarette.
A glass of bourbon with ice
in his hand.
The smell of burning tobacco strong.
And I liked it.
He got up to go outside.
Putting me down on the couch.
No one else was awake.
He opened the silver, side screen door.
Dark grass, soft carpet under bare feet.
Walked out onto a wooden dock,
with rusty nails and old varnish.
And a weathered bait bucket,
attached by a coiled brown rope,
that was fraying like a horse’s
unkempt tail.
Rumbling fiddler crabs off the dock,
like hordes of buffalo trampling on sand
and blue-gray stones.
He reached out
to give $50 to a poor, black man,
who was rowing by
in a small wooden boat.
Then he took a long, slow drag from his smoke
and looked off towards the expanse of the sea.
He went back inside.
Took his shower
and got dressed.
White shirt and navy blue tie.
Dark brown blazer.
He would be meeting
with new clients soon.
Hoping to fill their stores
with furniture to sell.
And as for me,
the whole world
was my grandfather,
my grandparents’ back yard,
an old wooden dock and the sea.
I dreamt last night I was
standing on unkempt grass
covering his brass gravestone.
An unfamiliar hand reached out
from under the ground
to grab me by the ankle
and pull me under.
And then, I was sitting again
in his smoke-filled Florida sun room.
Feeling that feeling of love
that six year old’s can get.
Loving the smell of burning tobacco.
I found my grandfather’s business card
in a black old box of family photos in our attic.
It was badly creased,
its letters worn and faded.
This glorious life too short for all of us.
With so many things to do,
to feel and to see.



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