What’s Worthy and Hue, 2 poems by Tim Suermondt

What’s Worthy

“A man is only as good as his word,”
my father used to say and I’ve tried
to live up to that—even now I hate
telling the smallest, inconsequential lie.
In a scene from How Green Was My Valley
one of the coalminer’s sons says to his
coalminer father “If manners prevent us from
speaking the truth, then we will be without

manners” and I like to think my days
of being without has been bountiful, despite
some missteps my father must have committed
too. On the whole, my father would have been
proud—-“Son, the little guy has to be listened
to,” saying it so often it became a part
of my bloodstream and I wrote it down, taping
it to my lunchbox the day the plant closed forever.

Father and son walking through an opening of light between trees
FATHERSONWALKING by Lorraine. CC license.

It hasn’t changed
and it’s changed—
extraordinary how
the past and the present
can hold hands this way,
and the future must be
trying on its tuxedo.
A group of school kids
pass by me, boys in blue
shorts, girls in white dresses
and some of the boys
give me the peace sign,
one calling out “John Wayne.”
I follow the bevy of motorbikes
down the streets, remembering
and forgetting so much.
A lone cow munches on a patch
of grass by the city hall
and I sit on a bench in the park,
under a large tree, its red leaves
shining like tracers. History,
I get to thinking, can be
kind too. Imagine.

Tim Suermondt
Tim Suermondt is the author of five full-length collections of poems, the latest: JOSEPHINE BAKER SWIMMING POOL from MadHat Press, 2019. He lives in Cambridge, Mass. with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.

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