“Two Walking Sticks” by Lee Blevins

There are two walking sticks in two corners,
framing the couch. They have beastly faces.

One is a horse with a chipped up right ear,
its handle bark peeling, a taller wood.

The other is shorter, he must have been
hunched up, shrinking in his old age by then.

I think it is a snake, see how it bends.
Kate says it is a hound, sleek for the chase,
but whether hound or snake, swift it was not,
for old men who use canes do not go quick.

I took them last summer to keep them safe
in my library of dead ancestors
among the bibles and the pocketknives.

But last September on Poppy Mountain,
(hungover from homemade blackberry wine)
my granny told me a story. It went:


Earsel would come home drunk and beat Irene.

One night Little Grandpa woke up and saw
his dad hitting his mom in the kitchen
like he had seen so many times before
and he picked up a cast iron skillet
and he knocked Earsel out cold on the floor.

Irene bent down and checked he was breathing.
They picked him up and carried him to bed.

Years passed. Granny married Grandpa. They lived
in a trailer next door to his parents.
Grandpa once told Granny all about it,
the drinking and the beating Earsel done,
with old Earsel sitting there beside him.

The withered man shook his head and told her,
“Don’t believe a thing he’s telling on me.
Look at these arms, these hands, I need a cane
to walk across the room. Who could I hurt?”

“You’re weren’t always old, dad,” replied grandpa.


Sometimes I think about snapping these sticks
and tossing their pieces into the woods
where all old beasts go to die in the end.

But I cannot bring myself to do it.
There are beasts in all our hands and faces.


Lee Blevins is a writer from Rowan County, Kentucky.


**Featured image “Walking sticks in the Salar Jung Museum” by Kritzolina, slightly cropped and altered – Wikimedia, CC 4.0


  1. Beautifully written and poignant. This will linger with me a while.

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