Poetry Sunday: Personal Effects by Raymond Effects

This poem was brought to my attention by my Facebook friend, Bill Gould, who had heard it on Writers' Almanac on NPR. I looked it up and was captivated. Those last three stanzas are just perfect and priceless. I hope you agree.

Personal Effects

by Raymond Byrnes
The lawyer told him to write a letter
to accompany the will, to prevent
potential discord over artifacts
valued only for their sentiment.
His wife treasures a watercolor by
her father; grandmama’s spoon stirs
their oatmeal every morning. Some
days, he wears his father’s favorite tie.
He tries to think of things that
could be tokens of his days:
binoculars that transport
bluebirds through his cataracts
a frayed fishing vest with
pockets full of feathers brightly
tied, the little fly rod he can still
manipulate in forest thickets,
a sharp-tined garden fork,
heft and handle fit for him,
a springy spruce kayak paddle,
a retired leather satchel.
He writes his awkward note,
trying to dispense with grace
some well-worn clutter easily
discarded in another generation.
But what he wishes to bequeath
are items never owned: a Chopin
etude wafting from his wife’s piano
on the scent of morning coffee
seedling peas poking into April,
monarch caterpillars infesting
milkweed leaves, a light brown
doe alert in purple asters
a full moon rising in October,
hunting-hat orange in ebony sky,
sunlit autumn afternoons that flutter
through the heart like falling leaves.


  1. Oh, those last three stanzas - yes, perfect, especially the "Chopin etude wafting from his wife's piano on the scent of morning coffee." Those are the lines that could make someone wish they could write poetry.

    1. Indeed. I do envy those who are able to express themselves poetically.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Poetry Sunday: Don't Hesitate by Mary Oliver

Overboard by Sara Paretsky: A review

The Investigator by John Sandford: A review