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Seth Grindstaff


Seth Grindstaff is a high school English and creative writing teacher residing among the hills of northeast Tennessee where he advises a student led poetry journal. He received his MA in English at ETSU, where he is a regular at open mic nights. His poetry has been honored at the John Fox Jr literary festival in VA. He spends his life alongside his sun-loving wife and foster children.

Snack time

Pinching at the protective shell between my fingers,
I whisper what I’ve rehearsed. It is hard enough
for me to say aloud: pa-stash-e-oh.

I’ve learned to think “mustache” and quickly
add the “p” aloud for pistachio. I must rehearse
each time I sit after school with my foster son,
our daily routine.

Before us, had you ever eaten these? I ask
while he cracks
the easy ones, leaving me the hard
questions opposed to prying. It is hard enough
for him to say, I see my mom
when I close my eyes. Mine, wide, still wonder
why? boring into possible pasts, unshelled
mounds heavy enough to topple the table,
hollowed answers I can’t see the half of.

It is hard enough to glean a reply;
each possibility is guarded
within this pre-fractured husk. But
taking all the focus of a kindergartner, his
crayon fingers split the hull, which drops like
mulch from his playground palms:
you know which one I mean. Right? I nod. She
before–used to buy these.
Another opportunity
granted in casual conversation,
another promise broken
into, piled on a disposable napkin.