Poetry Friday: For Father’s Day, the Poetry of Forrest Esenwine

Last month, for Mother’s Day, I shared one of my mother’s poems I discovered at their house, while cleaning out 50+ years worth of clothes, memories, paper, and assorted sundries from the attic and closets.

Today, it’s Dad’s turn in the spotlight!

The Lady-Killer himself, circa 1958, give or take a year or two. Now you finally know from where I get my devastating looks.

When I posted Mom’s poem, I mentioned that I was surprised to find it because I’d never known how much she loved poetry. With Dad, however, I wasn’t quite as surprised because I’d always known him to be very creative:  a graduate of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, he was very skilled at graphics, woodworking, and problem-solving. He could make an entertainment center for our living room one minute and then turn around and craft earrings for Mom.

He and I even built the barn!

Dad was always writing songs, too, and sharing them with Mom and me…so discovering his poetry, while surprising, was not completely unexpected. So, like I did for Mom last month, I’m sharing one of his poems today. I told him he’d finally be a published poet – and he chuckled and said, “Well, if you think anyone would want to read them!”

I definitely do think so, Dad. In fact, I’m going to share two!

(click to enlarge)

Pretty impressive, I think, for someone who never studied the craft formally. A very classical style, of course, but very thoughtful, with solid meter and rhyme. As soon as I read it, I knew I was going to have to post it here.

The other poem of his that I wanted to share is much more unusual in its structure and rhyme scheme, but no less insightful:


To Live,
…..Thy life fulfilled –
…..Thy kindness spilled…on others,
…..Are part of life, and still –
To Learn,
…..And sow the seeds I find
…..Of knowledge, in my mind –
…..But not to hold as divine, but
To Teach,
…..That they may know
…..That I might share – and so,
…..The understanding grows – but then,
To Love,
…..All – and still just one…
…..With depth and meaning – and done,
…..Myself complete…I’ve known it’s worth
To Live.

– © Forrest H. Esenwine

Dad met Mom while he was in the Army. He saw her across the room and told one of his buddies, “I’m going to marry that girl one day.” Fortunately for me, the plan worked.

Again, I’ve got to hand it to Dad (and Mom) for all the poetic genetics they’ve passed on to me. I’d never known they had the interest nor the ability to craft poetry like this, so my love of the genre and whatever skill I may possess did not come about through learning at home. There were a couple of poetry anthologies in their small library that I used to read all the time, but I don’t recall there ever being any push to get me to “like” poetry. In fact, I only had one poetry collection as a child, Dorothy Aldis’ The Secret Place and Other Poems (Scholastic, 1962), which I can look back on now as the single most important book in my literary development…so I can’t thank my parents enough for lighting that spark!

There’s plenty more poetry to be found, though, so be sure to head over to Laura Shovan’s blog, where she is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup with some choice selections from her poetry students!


From two weeks ago: Dad, in front of the house that we called home since 1975.



July 2, 2019: ………………………………………June 23, 2019:


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25 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: For Father’s Day, the Poetry of Forrest Esenwine

  1. amyludwigvanderwater

    Your parents are both beautiful poets…what a gift for you. Thank you for sharing these. Please tell your father we are grateful. x


  2. lindabaie

    It’s wonderful to read these two, Matt. What grand gifts you have discovered in your father’s and mother’s poems. It would be special to publish them. Your father’s poems shared offer such hope for life. Thank you for sharing and Happy Father’s Day to you, too!


  3. What a perfect post for Father’s Day. So impressed with the poetic genes in your family! Thanks for sharing both of these (the first is especially amazing). Also enjoyed the pics — the first one looks like it came straight out of “American Graffiti.” 🙂


  4. margaretsmn

    There was obviously a shared love of language in your upbringing. Thanks for sharing this sweet story and your father’s poems. Makes me wonder what I may find as I clean out my parents’ home. They recently moved to a retirement home.


    1. Be prepared to sort through a LOT of paperwork to find those gems, Margaret – mom saved a bunch of paperwork that was useless, but when she told me I could get rid of a huge trunk from their bedroom, I made a point to look through it and found her & dad’s poems, his dog tags from the Army, and 4 boxes of photos going all the way back to when mom was a baby! Good thing I didn’t follow her suggestion to throw it out!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh my goodness–what a lovely discovery. I especially love how the self-deprecating personality of your dad comes through in both your conversation with him AND in his first poem (“somewhat in His grace”). And his kindness comes through, too. What a gift to have these. Thanks for sharing them here!


  6. laurashovan222

    “And feel the rain upon my face/ and know I’m somewhat in His grace” — such beautiful lines, Matt. Thank you for this tribute.


  7. So very special, Matt – and how wonderful to fold up your parents’ words into your own poetic heritage. I didn’t realize until a recent trip to see my folks in Florida that my mother had written a poem on the occasion of her father’s death (before I was born), so of course I made a copy. (She and I were looking through her box of family papers and photos and such.) A lovely find!


  8. Kay Mcgriff

    Please tell your dad I enjoyed reading his poems very much! His first one, especially, was perfectly timed, coming just after reading a Wendell Berry poem. Both share that love of home and earth.


  9. Matt, your father and mother both had a penchant for poetry. Isn’t it wonderful to find treasures of their lives that you did not know about? Poetry runs deep in your family.


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