Green Hills Literary Lantern

What the General Knew

“Looking forward to it.” Meeting God, that would be.
As he might to shaking hands with John Glenn.
A last round of chemo having failed to do the trick,
my father-in-law was game for what must follow.
Now 77, he looked boyish. “I’ve had a good life.”
And was feeling okay that day, so the smile
I readied was not, I figured, a last leave-taking.
But what came next showed he planned
no revoir. “And a wonderful family.”
From the hospital bed he gripped
my forearm, frowned into and steadied
my gaze, then nodded with a snap.

My Father, Desperate

Searching the grass of the yard
he mowed to perfection each Sunday,
Dad was more intent than I had ever seen.
The sight of him that way
was a privilege, a lesson
that he might lose what he could not afford to.
What had gone missing was his St. Jude medal.
Helper in desperate cases.
A Jew can have one, it turned out,
because he did. Got that part right off.
Getting past my curiosity over what it was
he needed help with would take a longer time.


Roger Netzer’s poems have appeared in The Potomac and Chiron. He grew up on Bee Brook Road in Washington, Connecticut. Now he lives with Francie Campbell in New York.Their sons are Harry and Charlie.