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Ronald Lauderbach


My grandfather was always Bam to me.
An odd name---even 65 years ago
but he loved it when I called him that
and showed me his skinny old face
of sun-tanned leather, with a three-day
beard and a nearly toothless smile.
Bam spent most days working in his shop,
wearing a greasy striped canvas apron and
a railroad engineer’s cap. He beat red-hot steel
on his pony-size anvil, creating a clang heard
all over the block, then thrust the hot metal
into water that hissed like a steam engine. I
watched him work and knew if I came too
close, he would lay down his five-pound
hammer and place a gentle, dirty hand on
my chest or head. When I left Bam’s shop, I
washed my hands with rough Lava soap that
stung like a wire brush on my ten-year-old skin.      

This poem first appeared in The Chiron Review (Issue 21, Spring 2020).
Used here with permission.

Ronald Lauderbach says he writes poetry to celebrate life and because he likes to play with language. A retired high school English and journalism teacher (he also coached Pony League, for 12- and 13-year-olds), he tries to follow the advice he gave his students: “If you write poetry that moves you, it will move others.” Ron lives in San Diego, California.



Post New Comment:
Lucy Lehman:
Wonderful poem. I love how your poems are so varied. Congratulations on your Honorable mention award! Lucy Lehman
Posted 02/24/2023 02:36 PM
Wilda Morris:
The images are wonderful. I can see this happening. And I remember the Lava!
Posted 09/17/2022 11:10 AM
Leslie Hodge:
Wonderful sense of place and people. Very moving.
Posted 09/13/2022 03:20 PM
Lori Levy:
Your grandfather comes alive for me in this poem. Beautiful.
Posted 09/13/2022 12:48 PM
Love this poem!!! Grandfathers are sooo special! Wish I could see mine in all his glory, clearing land by hand with his three grandchildren along, to play all day in the woods and creek and eat a picnic lunch!! Love you, Pappaw!!
Posted 09/13/2022 12:17 PM
I love the engineer's cap and the Lava soap. Details are so important.
Posted 09/13/2022 10:51 AM
Loved This Poem Ron. Thank you for the sweet, memory.
Posted 09/13/2022 10:47 AM
Well-crafted; full of enticing visuals and sounds. Thank you, Ronald.
Posted 09/13/2022 09:24 AM
Sharon Waller Knutson:
I love this picturesque character sketch of a grandfather who is dear to the poets heart. It makes it all more meaningful because it is told from the point of a ten year old boy. And because the speaker describes the old man warts and all, he becomes dear to our heart too. My favorite line: "I watched him work and knew if I came too close, he would lay down his five-pound hammer and place a gentle, dirty hand on my chest or head."
Posted 09/13/2022 08:41 AM
Great images from Bams toothless smile to his greasy striped canvas apron and engineers hat and the clang of a 5 pound hammer and gentle dirty hands. I think Id call him Bam too. Randy Mazie
Posted 09/13/2022 07:49 AM

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