“Lamp Legacy” by Stephen Mead

2020 Pushcart Prize Nominee
2020 Best of the Net Nominee

I filched my grandmother’s lamp from her front porch
a week after her funeral.  I was moving again,
but three years passed before I even used it.
Cracked at the brass base, the thing’s lima bean china
bristled within when first lit, &, on top, instead
of a shade there was some friend’s old fedora.

Is there any message from that glow of the 3-way bulb
shorting before blazing?

It knows of generations, owners, & houses.
It knows of conversations, traffic surf, bird whistles
& leaf sighs.  It has held them the way a surface
has held, congenial, this cord-wrapped vase,
these electric secrets spreading, encapsulating radiance…

Tonight on the floor by my bed of worn couch cushions,
steamy mug & spilled brushes, the lamp stands
as my grandmother once stood, humble & useful
while I paint all I can of these refracted windows…
such neon rippling & streaks of purple monochrome
now slowly fading as night blues to dawn…

Grandma, how can I hold them, set down with each stroke
what loses time & light?

Oh yes, I remember:
“Take this lamp, re-use tea bags & stamps”…
your cycle of advice resounding real & still
so maybe someday by lamplight again after another move
I will look at this painting, look, feel, and know:

those were the shadows, that was the wall.


A resident of NY, Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer.  Since the 1990s he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online.  He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the health insurance. In 2014 he began a web page to gather various links to his published poetry in one place.

One thought on ““Lamp Legacy” by Stephen Mead

  1. Wow! Such a beautiful poem.I never got to have a relationships with my grandmother. Your poem really opened my eyes:0). I once found a fun exercise online for writing about family members. I plan on doing the exercise. I look forward to reading more of your poetry. If you have a blog, I would love to visit it. I am Victoria Hunter, also a Pushcart Nominated poet, my poem was posted on the 10th.

    Liked by 1 person

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