Laughter Remembered

By KB Ballentine

– for Granddad

Death hardly seems like you –
still and silent who was never so.
You always sang “Chattanooga Choo-Choo”
when you saw me, mimicking the train
wheels with your arms and feet.
I used to think old age made you choose
the hot pink, the ruby red socks, but, no,
old photos show the stripes, the geometric shapes
that must have been bright
eye-catching in real life
though now they’re a phantom black and white.
I burrowed my head on Grandma’s shoulder,
but you let me lick troubles off Klondike bars,
showed me how to karate chop.
For more than a century you’ve made your mark –
waving to strangers on the street, giving them
a friendly grin – such a burden, an embarrassment
when I was ten.
Now I’d give anything to hear
which team you’d root for in the games, which horse
you backed, listen to your stories again and again
and again.

KB Ballentine’s sixth collection, The Light Tears Loose, appeared last summer with Blue Light Press. Published in Crab Orchard Review and Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, among others, her work also appears in anthologies including In Plein Air (2017) and Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace (2017). Learn more at