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Story by Tiff Holland (Read author interview) March 18, 2009

Art by artist unknown

My grandfather was a doughboy, then a paratrooper. He marched on Washington after one of the wars. I have a picture, his pants stuffed in his boots, a smokey bear hat slid to his bushy brows. He is holding something. I cannot remember his voice. I cannot remember him speaking. He had a chair by the door. The chair vibrated. His were the only hands the dog wouldnt nuzzle. He had emphysema from the mustard gas and he only ate scrapple: eggs and spam. It was the only thing he could taste. I hung up his picture. I thought him a hero. My grandmother did not grieve him when he died. She shuffled around the house in her slippers, and then another man died, another soldier. I saw the cut out obituary on my grandmothers kitchen table. She took to wearing that mans dog-tags around her neck, old tags, on a leather strap, a ship engraved on one side of the thick metal and Edward on the other. I watched when my grandmother stuck a picture of herself in an envelope along with the obituary, no letter, no note. I took her to the post office to mail it to his widow.

About the Author

Tiff lives in central Texas with her husband and daughter. Her work regularly appeared in literary magazines, e-zines and anthologies and has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her chapbook Straight Out of the Can was a semi-finalist for this year’s Rose Metal Press Chapbook contest, and her poetry chapbook Bone In a Tin Funnel is available through Pudding House Press.

About the Artist

About the art, Tiff says, “Actually, it’s a postcard (I realized when I took it out of the tiny oval frame it’s been in for years.) The picture really is my grandfather William Holland. He’s at the tent city in Washington DC (after WWI) that vets set up to demand benefits they were promised. So—I have no idea who the photographer was. It was cool to take it out of the frame and discover that it was a postcard—see his cursive pencil message to my grandmother, but the edges were cut off. I imagine that’s where any photographer info would have been.”

This story appeared in Issue Twenty-Four of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twenty-Four

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