Tom Sheehan: Two Poems

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I have read, visited in NC and worked in Tennessee.

Ed. note: Mr. Sheehan is a frequent Mule contributor and one of our favorite writers. Please welcome him back to the Mule for the umpteenth time.


I Who Lost A Brother

and nearly lost another
remember the headlines, newsreels,
songs of bond-selling, gas-griping,
and movies too true to hate.

The whole Earth bent inwards,
imploding bombs, bullets, blood,
shrieking some terrible bird cry
in my ears only sleep could lose.

Near sleep I could only remember
the nifty bellbottom blues he wore
in the picture my mother cleaned
and cleaned and cleaned on the altar

of her bureau as if he were the Christ
or the Buddha, but he was out there
in the sun and the sand and the rain
of shells and sounds I came to know

years later moving up from Pusan.
I never really knew about him until
he came home and I saw his sea bag
decorated with his wife’s picture,

and a map
and the names
Saipan, Iwo Jima, Kwajalein,
the war.


Tuesday May Be a Day Too Late

Greet dawn each day as if a lost friend’s come home;
Make one and only one promise to yourself
That you will enjoy the day and all it brings;
Find in yourself the one extra ounce of reserve
When you need it, and you will, for each day
Demands energy as well as love;

Smile and say hello everyday to at least one stranger;
Acknowledge the joy of children and the peace
That elders deserve; be as free with compliments
As you are with your criticism; bite your tongue
On the first harsh word you want to say;

Shake hands as if you were a link in a lifeline;
Once in a while give something away
That’s important to you, but not a dream;
Recall faces of parents and childhood incidents,
And remember their touch, their kiss,
Their hand on you;

Retire with a smile to the joy of your rest,
Knowing tomorrow is at hand; and above all,
Grasp your dream as if it had handles,
For you are the only one who can turn it around.