Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Teaching Jericho about Fire on Thanksgiving Day…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Bewilderment,Children,Depression and Hope,Life & Death,Marriage and Family,Old Fart Wisdom,Wisconsin stories — Bob at 9:55 pm on Thursday, November 23, 2017

Teaching Jericho About Fire on Thanksgiving Day

by Robert M. Katzman © Thanksgiving Day, 2017


We’re walking on the beach collecting wood

 Thanksgiving Day

Pieces of our family are gathering

First time without Grandma in his short life

And my long one

Her shadow follows us

He’s six and doing his best

I’m sixty-seven and want him to know

To know about wood and fire and so much more

I think about Time and that it’s flowing too quickly


I tell him the lake washes up driftwood

So dry it will catch fire in a wink

He looks for it like a robin focused on a worm

I tell him the white branches are best to collect

As we walk down the beach with a small wheelbarrow

Filling it with bits and pieces of kindling

I told him kindling meant small pieces of wood

Fire-starting sized wood

About the size of his fingers

Like kindergarten meant small kids

Jericho nodded he understood


I told him that small branches were like his wrist

Bigger branches were thicker like his thin white arms

He looks at his fingers, wrist and arm, taking inventory

He says little, tries hard to get it right

Grandpa told him he will burn

Whatever wood the boy finds

In a big fire tonight, with real logs and maybe hot chocolate

He’s six and this is serious motivation

It won’t be for long, and he won’t notice it passing


This is the year of first time everything

Without Grandma

As each of the holidays pass by

And her absence looms large

In my severed existence

But to our small grandchildren

Does she fade?

Will they remember her warm

Enveloping arms

Her scent

Her laugh

Her lap

Her love


Later, in the black night

We build our big fire, beginning with Jericho’s branches

I tell him that when he gathers the wood himself

 That it will warm him twice

Once from the work and once from the flames

He sits on his Mother’s lap

Watching the magic show as the flames climb

The sparks fly and the hungry fire begins


I tell him all his senses are there and involved

He can smell the smoke

See the flames

Hear the crackling

Feel the heat

And taste some ashes on his tongue

I watch him stick out his tongue and test that

I watch both of them cuddled together

I wish my girl were here

Sharing this beauty with us

One more time


Then I think, but she is here

She is part of our daughter

She is part of our grandson

They are both her and I accept that

Deciding to be happy is a decision

Will Jericho teach his own child about fire?

Will these Thanksgiving Day moments last?


The boy is six

I should limit my expectations

I wonder what to be thankful for

I decide to be thankful

For her

For him

And for now


Publishing News! 

Bob Katzman’s two new true Chicago books are now for sale, from him!
Vol. One: A Savage Heart  and Vol. Two: Fighting Words

Gritty, violent, friendship, classic American entrepreneurship love, death, heartbreak and the real dirt about surviving in a completely corrupt major city under the Chicago Machine. More history and about one man’s life than a person may imagine.

Please visit my new website: https://www.dontgoquietlypress.com
If a person doesn’t want to use PayPaI, I also have a PO Box & I ship anywhere in America.

Send me a money order with your return and contact info.
I will get your books to you within ten days.
Here’s complete information on how to buy my books:

Vol 1: A Savage Heart and Vol. 2: Fighting Words
My books weigh almost 2 pounds each, with about 525 pages each and there are a total together of 79 stories and story/poems.

Robert M. Katzman
Don’t Go Quietly Press
PO Box 44287
Racine, Wis. 53404-9998                                                                                                                    (262)752-3333, 8AM–7PM

Books cost $29.95 each, plus shipping

For: (1)$3.95; (2)$5.95; (3)$7.95; (4)$8.95 (5)$9.95;(6) $10.95

(7) $11.95; (8) $12.95; (9)$13.95 (10)$15.95 (15)$19.95

I am also for hire if anyone wants me to read my work and answer questions in the Chicago/Milwaukee area. Schools should call me for quantity discounts for 30 or more books. Also: businesses, bookstores, private organizations or churches and so on.

My Fighting Words Publishing Co. four original books, published between 2004 and 2007 are now out-of-print. I still have some left and will periodically offer them for sale on my new website.

 Twitter handle: bob_katzman


Comment by Gail D Garza

November 23, 2017 @ 10:37 pm

I know, Robert.

Comment by Helene

November 23, 2017 @ 11:46 pm

It will warm him a third time when he is an adult building a fire and thinking of his grandpa.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Comment by brad dechter

November 24, 2017 @ 8:14 am

Well said Bob. Brought tears to my eyes.
Thanks much for sharing!

Comment by Jim Payne

November 24, 2017 @ 8:39 am

Slowly, sometimes painfully, you are working your way through the passage of loss. You have come half way and now you can look ahead to the future as well as accepting the past. You are touching Jericho. You are on a journey and you are moving forward. I see it in every time you accept your loss. Slowly the journey becomes gentle, sad but gentle.

Comment by Don Larson

November 25, 2017 @ 4:35 pm


A beautiful everlasting poem.

Thank you for sharing the sentiment.


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