Best of OWP: "Grandpa's Ring"

I thought I'd post the pieces of my portfolio for the Oregon Writing Project Summer Institute at Willamette University here, one piece per day. I hope someone enjoys these, gets a flavor for just how valuable the Oregon Writing Project was for me, and decides to check out their own local chapter of the National Writing Project.

Grandpa’s Ring

His ring was very thin by the end.
The gold wore down
As he moved around the world
Did amazing things
Lived a life too unbelievably full for fiction.
When he was gone
My mother wanted me to have it.
We put two white-gold bands on either side.
I slid it on my finger on my wedding day
Twisting it over my knuckle.
Talismans skip a generation.
My parents own their objects of power.
I have mine because Mom gave me her father’s.
The ring cannot fit over my knuckle.
My son will not wear it while I am alive.
After I am gone
Will a grandchild carry my grandfather
To far away places
And take me along too?

Rotting on the Vine

They asked me where poems hide.

Standing out on my back porch
(generous name for a slab of concrete
surrounded by the summer's overgrown garden
rotten tomatoes wrapped in weeds)

listening to music
through earbuds that enjoy bungee-jumping out of my ears

smoking the pipe I bought
because it looks like the one Grandpa smoked

and sometimes a fragment of a lyric sticks awkwardly

or some small frustration of the day
an irritant like sand under a contact lens
is coated like a pearl with the bile of a dog-eared thesaurus

and poems come out of the fetid earth.