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Poetry of William Gallaher

A sampling of poetry by William R. Gallaher who writes in several genres, including novels, short stories, poetry, songwriting and Christian messages.


Such a peaceful place,
On a simple bench, alone,
On a path in a pocket park
On a pleasant Fall afternoon.
A small urban oasis this is,
Protected in an interstate park,
Bounded by firm covenants,
It will not soon pass away.
I know this bench well,
Ever since it was built,
In the summer of ‘62,
Fifty-five years ago.
The trees have grown,
The bushes greatly expanded,
The slats have been replaced,
And the path has been repaved.
But it remains here,
The concrete pad carefully leveled,
The side concrete frames,
Still standing perfectly plumb.
Like me, it has weathered,
And shows the signs of age,
Has supported many a resting soul,
And still looks built to last.
I can see I built it well.
Carefully prepared the foundation,
Worked to level the concrete,
And set the vertical sides plumb.
The path runs where we placed it,
Between wooden forms long ago.
Meandering through trees and boulders,
Not far from the George Washington Bridge.
Other old people saunter by,
And women roll strollers with children.
Just as they did when it was newly done,
That seems an eternity ago.

No one would have predicted,
That the kid on that work crew,
Would one day become a professor,
And build a foundation of science.
But here I sit,
Revisiting my past,
Seeing its permanence,
And enjoying the view.
Such a peaceful place,
On a simple bench, alone,
On a path in a pocket park
On a pleasant Fall afternoon.

William R. Gallaher
Copyright, 2017



It’s so nice and quiet in here.
I told them to turn off that damn music
So I could have quiet time with my wife.
You can never know how this feels,
No matter how often folks tell of it.
I suppose for everyone it’s different.

We have had a great run, you and I.
The better part of six decades.
I loved when we had coffee in the morning,
Loved sitting with you in the sunroom,
Together watching the soft morning light
Dancing among the violets you loved.

There are so many things we used to do,
The ability now long since passed.
Cuddling on the living room sofa,
Till I just had to rush you to the bed.
How I remember our nights of passion,
And that night we conceived our son.

Oh, what a time we had, my love.
Sure, we had our moments,
But always made up before bedtime.
I am glad I could be there for you,
But I also know, deep in my heart,
That it was more you were there for me.

We wanted to grow old together.
Yes, be careful what you wish for.
This suit fits too loose on me now.
You worried I was losing too much,
Sitting so many hours at your bedside.
I told you not to worry.

I will be fine, I would tell you,
But now I am not so sure.

I still have the children, yes,
Though they all live far away.
And just as I did last night,
I will still take out the trash,
Still clean up in the kitchen.
But now it will be different.

I can no longer do it for you.
No longer will you choose what we watch.
I will have to learn that damned remote.
The dog doesn’t understand either.
We still look for you around the house,
Still wait for you to call us to supper.

Soon this room will fill with people.
So many of them who loved you.
I’ll be busy reminiscing with them,
For they need comforting too.
But for now, my love, my dear heart,
Just know, oh, how much I will miss you.

William R. Gallaher
Copyright, 2016


Ode to a city before the EPA

Grey city under grey sky,
You make me feel years older.
Hazy sunrise filters through grimy windows.
I awake to rumbling trolley wheels
And the din of a thousand engines,
Or the squeal of panicky sudden stops,
And tires swerving on streetcar tracks.
No need here for an alarm.
No way to start the day.

Red and brown brick tenements
Weighted down with their old age.
Windows and doors dulled with grit,
No paint fresh enough to gleam.
Slathered with coat upon coat
Without sanding or slightest trimming.
Cracked and patched here and there,
Like the streets on which they sit,
Pitted with urban acne.
New slapped carelessly on old
Like rouge on a senile woman.

Down narrow creaking stairways
Or walking on uneven sidewalks,
Watchful of those who follow or pass,
And careful of wallet or purse.
Oppressed by a cacophony of smells
From trash or trucks or crap from dogs,
And last night’s urine in the subway.
Particles of dirt irritate the eyes
Along with graffiti and handbills.

In our neighborhood without neighbors,
We rush along through our day,
As graceless as our city home.
With too many wasted hours,
Waiting for too many lights to change,
Or cruising for a space to park…
Our canopy the sagging telephone wires
Strung between pock-marked poles,
With shreds of black rubber hanging free,
A foliage of wire corroded green.

Our faces creased and lined with cares,
And sallow as old window shades.
Grey city under grey sky,
You make me feel years older
And restless to get away.
So anxious to get away.

William R. Gallaher
(copyright 2012)


William R. Gallaher is a retired Professor with a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from Harvard University. During his scientific career he studied the entry of viruses into human cells and was first to identify the entry proteins of HIV, Ebola, and Lassa Fever Virus. He also discovered the Ebola Delta Toxin in 2014 after 9 years in retirement. He writes in several genres, including novels, short stories, poetry, songwriting and Christian messages. He also continues a private ministry.

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