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Horehound Candy
Carl Palmer


Seeing it on the country store shelf
reminds me of Dad.
“Horehound Candy,” a name snickered
at when I got older,
a flavor not really to my liking,
a root beer licorice cough drop taste,
but still, it was candy
and what kid would turn down candy.
Dad would always buy one stick,
snap it in two, hand me my half,
say, “too much sugar’ll spoil supper,
plus a penny a piece is ridiculous.”
I don’t remember the first or last
time he bought me a stick,
I just remember he always did,
a sort of father-son rite of passage
when horehound was on the shelf.
So I ask for one of the candies,
pay the ridiculous price of a quarter
and put half the stick in my mouth.
It tastes just like it did back then,
but I don’t remember when it ever
caused a tear to fall from my eye.

This poem first appeared in Tree House (February 2018).
Used here with the author’s permission.



Carl “Papa” Palmer lives in University Place, Washington now, but grew up on Old Mill Road (the name of his latest book) in Ridgeway, Virginia. Retired from the military and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), he enjoys being a Franciscan Hospice volunteer and being “Papa” to his grand descendants. Carl is the author of six chapbooks and his work has been published in more than 200 journals around the world. His motto is "Long Weekends Forever!"


Post New Comment:
Wilda Morris:
Good memory!
Posted 06/21/2021 12:29 PM
it brought a tear to mine too :)
Posted 06/16/2021 12:19 AM
'Sweet' memory!!!
Posted 06/13/2021 08:44 PM
Well done poem that captures a childhood memory and addition of emotional response.
Posted 06/13/2021 05:09 PM
lovely poem, perfect ending
Posted 06/13/2021 04:02 PM
Beautiful poem. Its so interesting how what seemed like the little things become memories, like yours, that call on the poet to write about it, share it, honoring the sweetness of what was to become sweetness in this moment. Thank you.
Posted 06/13/2021 11:28 AM
Beautiful poem and it brought a tear to my eye too!
Posted 06/13/2021 09:51 AM
Cathy’s Sister:
A lovely tribute to your father! The ending is especially poignant. My parents also liked horehound candy, I thought maybe it was because they were raised during the depression and any candy was appreciated.
Posted 06/13/2021 09:26 AM
Can one still buy it? I want to try it.
Posted 06/13/2021 09:21 AM
Janet Leahy:
Lovely poem, perfect ending.
Posted 06/13/2021 09:19 AM
michael escoubas:
Brings back similar sentiments for me as well, Carl . . . thank you for the memory.
Posted 06/13/2021 08:08 AM
Larry Schug:
The ending is exquisite, a perfect poem. It appeals to me in a poet, as well as a human being
Posted 06/13/2021 07:43 AM

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