Family Poem for Kids

My Great Grandfather And His Life's Work

Hi, my name is Alan Balter, and I am a retired university professor. I worked at the University of Illinois and Chicago State University where my job was to prepare teachers for children with special needs. Now, in retirement, I write fiction, personal essays, and poetry. I wrote "Great Grandpa" to honor the man and to preserve his memory for younger people in the family.

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Great Grandpa


Published: January 11, 2018

Great Grandpa is a wise old man who says he's ninety-four.
He tells me that he lost his leg fighting in some war.
When I was just a little tot with eyes and nose still runny,
He swears that he forgot my name, so now he calls me Sonny.

Great Grandpa is a carpenter; he makes things out of wood,
Chairs and stairs and pegs and legs; gee, I wish I could.
He has saws and tools and tapes and rules in the shed where he does work.
Most times he's out there late at night with his dear old helper, Turk.

Together they talk of good old days 'bout things they used to do,
And sometimes they just kick around what are lies and what is true.
Once at breakfast, I asked my gramps when he learned his trade.
He said, "Sonny, I'm very proud to say it was down in second grade."

"Gramps," I said, "Now that's a fib; you weren't but seven or eight.
A boy can't be a carpenter at such an early date."
Grandpa winked and took a swig of cider for his thirst.
"Why, sure you can; it's easy Sonny, after nine straight years in first!"

We laughed and then he took a nap; his skin grew pale and lighter.
I loved his wrinkled face and brow, this great old freedom fighter.
He had a restful sleep awhile snoring soft and steady.
I wonder if Great Grandpa knows I'm missing him already.

more by Alan Balter



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