Two Poems by Judy Lorenzen


A thick fog rolled in this morning,
and it’s just one of those days
when clouds of memories come in
and eventually move way, as one
picture comes clearly into focus—
now I see my father sitting
in the living-room chair
after cooking in a hot kitchen
all morning and afternoon long
at The Platter on Interstate 80—
his eyes, closed,
his feet and legs aching.
Ronnie Milsap’s “Smoky Mountain Rain”
plays in the background,
and I hear my father’s voice,
“I’ve had a change of dreams,
I’m comin’ home. . .”
I am moved by hearing his voice again
and realize that he was singing from a place
of deep understanding of the song—
the rain, the regret, the homesickness,
the “doing everything I can to get back, but
no one will let me in”—
and for the first time,
I see him.
He harmonizes with Ronnie
and the memory is sweet,
and just like the rain in the song
and the tears
the singer has to wipe back from his eyes,
I’d give anything
to see my father again,
a man whose love
I rejected most of my life
when the fog of resentment obscured my perspective—
then I took his love for granted
like he owed it to me.
But death and memory offer
the sorrows of hindsight,
the blessing of clear vision.
Now I see everything,
and what I see
is all that I failed at,
and what I remember
is goodness,
and the only thing I feel
is mountains of love.


high above the old barn,
which began leaning years ago,
is its Milky Way roof,
starlight shining on rotting boards
and broken hinges. A rush of wings
escapes out the broken door
as I approach.
This is the way I remember
Grandma and Grandpa—
beautiful and falling apart,
grey haired,
arthritic hands and bodies,
sitting in their lawn chairs
in the evening, smiling—
always welcoming.
They felt the years of hard toil
in every joint,
never complained—
and when they couldn’t keep up
any longer,
they learned to let go
and enjoy stars.

Judy Lorenzen is a poet, writer, and English teacher. She holds a BA in English; an MSED in Community Counseling (LMHP); an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Nebraska-Kearney (UNK); and a PhD in Rhetoric and Composition from UNLHer work appears in Plains Song Review, Relief Literary Journal, PlainsongCelebrate: A Collection of Writings by and About Women (Volume XVI), Nebraska LifeThe Fence Post, The Untidy Season: An Anthology of Nebraska Women Poets, The Grand Island IndependentMisbehavin’ Nebraskans, Voices from the Plains, Vol. 2,Verse-Virtual, and Your Daily Poem, among other publications.