Friday, October 24, 2008

Poetry Friday -- Tools

This poem goes out to the men in my life who have known their way around a hardware store and a toolbox with their eyes closed.

But it also goes out to anyone who knows the secret names of flowers and trees, constellations and kitchen gadgets.

by Ronald Wallace

My father always knew the secret
name of everything—
stove bolt and wing nut,
set screw and rasp, ratchet
wrench, band saw, and ball—
peen hammer. He was my
tour guide and translator
through that foreign country
with its short-tempered natives
in their crewcuts and tattoos,
who suffered my incompetence
with gruffness and disgust.
Pay attention, he would say,
and you'll learn a thing or two.

(the rest is here)

The roundup today is at Big A little a


  1. This poem is beautiful. My dad did not know his way around a toolbox (he liked golf courses much better). Even so, these words bring an instant lump to my throat, missing him!

  2. Love this poem. Both my dad and my husband know all the right names for tools. It's definitely in the genes.

  3. This is one of my favorite poems about fathers; I count myself lucky for having figured out the names of things, so that when it was "hand me that --" I knew. I was always so proud when I knew.

  4. This is SO my husband. My father did know the name for everything, but since I was "the girl" I wasn't always privy to the same information as my brother. He did teach me to hunt though. GREAT POEM!

  5. My dad wasn't much for a tool box, but he could recite The Cremation of Sam McGee. And since he was a surgeon, I'm quite sure he HAD tools, but I don't really want to know what each of them did!

  6. What a powerful contrast, from learning the names to being tongue tied with loss. Touching!

  7. Also wanted to say I read down a bit in the Writer's Almanac and enjoyed reading about the Norman invasion of 1066. One of my students had a library card with the number 1066 this week and I was telling him what a great number to have and easy to remember once you know the history of the English language.

  8. I love this poem as well. My father doesn't know tools or kitchen gadgets or trees, but his approach to life is straightforward and true to himself. And his non-judgmental love makes me feel as tongue-tied as the poet. Thanks for the tenderness the poem has brought to me.

  9. Anonymous11:38 AM

    Nice one ml. I wish I knew my way around a toolbox!

  10. Anonymous7:06 AM

    Love this poem, and love your dedication of it just as much!

    Laura Salas (signing because OpenID isn't working for me this morning!)


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