Category Archives: mourning

The Soldier Memorial Day 2016

As he lay dying,

He didn’t think of his country.

He thought of his mother

And the tears she would shed

As she buried her only son.

She always told him

Take care of yourself, Albert.

Come home

To people that love you.

 

He did not think of the country he was giving his life for.

He did not think of the rhetoric of politicians.

He did not think that God wanted this war.

 

He thought of his girlfriend

The girl he loved since sixth grade

But only got up the nerve

To ask her out a year ago.

 

He thought of her smile

That was often followed by giddy laughter

In response to something silly he did.

He thought of her deep brown eyes

That would make the rest of the world melt away

And made his heart both weak and strong.

 

He did not think of the country he was giving his life for.

He did not think of the minimum wage.

He did not think of bathrooms or wedding cakes.

 

He thought of his kid brother

Barely in his teens and

Already getting into trouble.

Who will teach him life’s lessons,

While playing basketball

On the court set up in their driveway?

Who will keep him in line,

While giving him space to grow?

 

He did not think of the country he was giving his life for.

He did not think of the racism or the crime in the streets.

He did not think of the hatred of the stranger in the land of liberty.

 

He thought of many things.

He thought of the people he loved,

Their words, their smiles, their laughter.

And then he thought no more.

 

And we, whom he died for,

Think of bathrooms and wedding cakes.

And listen to the venomous rhetoric of our politicians.

And moan that the weather did not cooperate for our barbecue.

And haggle at car dealerships with salesmen

As they look for their next customer.

 

We, whom he died for, hardly ever

Think of the soldiers

Whose last moments

Were alone

But filled with memories

Of meaning.

 

 

 

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Slipping 04/13/19

She slipped away

With the dying of the day

Facing east

Sun in the west

Darkness rising

From the ocean

Before her.

 

She felt peace and comfort.

Strange

Because all she ever wanted

Was excitement.

A tormented soul

No longer tormented

By demons of her own

Creation

And others who found

An empty shell

Where happiness

Once resided.

 

She was happy once

Way back before the

Needles,

And alcohol,

And depression.

 

So far away

And long ago.

Barely remembered

Until the slipping started.

Sitting under the

Japanese Maple

Listening to the birds

Feeling love

And safety

In that house

On Laurel Lane.

 

 


My Sentence

I look at my picture

Taken just a few minutes ago

I don’t recognize myself

Who is this unhappy man?

 

My hair hurts.

I run my fingers

Through my scalp

Grasping and pulling

The tortured, graying strands

 

My eyelids heavy.

I lay down on my cot.

I can’t sleep.

But I can’t move.

Laying there for hours.

Until I feel the devil

Grasping and pulling

Me down where demons dwell.

 

Startled at the reality

Of this living hell.

Can’t escape the reality

Of this living hell.

Resolved to the reality

Locked in my prison cell.

Never again to hold

My sweet, sweet Annabelle.

 


The Glass Top Stove

I clean the house

When I feel helpless.

If I can just clean that little spot

I would have something.

And being able to do something,

Is meaningful

In a world filled with sorrow.

 

A glass top stove

So scorched and black

From months of neglect

Calls for attention.

I stand above it

wondering how it got so worn.

How my life has

Left me

Scorched and black?

Charred remains,

Remaining ever charred.

 

My hand moves clockwise

As I scrub counter-clockwise.

The end result is insignificant.

The scorchedness remains.

 

I wonder why she left

Without a word.

Her pain too strong,

For niceties,

For reconciliation.

 

The grey speckled

Surface of the stove

Peeks through

The darkness.

How many months will

This take to shine?

How many years did

the sorrow mount?

Quiet avoidance

Of simple connections.

Vigorous denials

Of ever increasing distance,

Obscuring even the smallest

Sign of affection.

 

I work an hour,

Then two.

The darkness remains.

The pain remains.

This will not go away

Like my darling girl,

My darling gentle girl.

 


Thoughts on Gun Control

Time to stop

 You tell us that it is too soon to talk about it.

That we shouldn’t make this political.

That now is the time for us to pray for the victims and their families.

When is a good time to talk about it?

When will a mother stop mourning for her child?

When will a son stop missing his parent?

When will a friend stop thinking of the life cut short?

I still think of the neighborhood boy who was shot in an accidental shooting.

That was fifty years ago.

I still think of John and Martin and Robert.

I still think of a friend who took his own life on Christmas eve.

That was twenty years ago.

I still think of the Charleston Nine who died at the hands of a white supremacist as they sat in church.

There will never be a better time to talk about it then now.

Let us give the mourners comfort in the fact that this will never happen again.

That might give them some comfort.

It won’t bring their loved one back.

But it will stop others from mourning other loved ones.

 


I will not tend my garden anymore. 11/19/16

 

I will not tend my garden anymore.

Let it grow. Let it grow.

I cannot contain it anyway.

It will wilt or grow in God’s own way.

 

I remember when I came to this place.

Four stately pines, three in the back, leaning towards each other

Dependent but independent. I thought they were weak.

I thought they would fall, so I cut them.

I cut them down, not letting them live, their lives,

Without my consent.

 

One in the front, I cut down as well

Too close to the house.

Too close to my home.

Too close to me.

So I cut it down.

Four trees, three of the past, one for tomorrow.

 

And then I cut some more,

Pruning and weeding,

Uprooting and cutting

In order to make my garden perfect.

But I have tended too, too aggressively.

Plants like people need space to grow and air to breath.

They cannot blossom in trifled containers.

 

My Gypsy Sues have died, their thorny skeletons catching me when I pass.

My Lodden Blue has wilted but flourishes far away from my tending.

Professor Anton Kippenburg refused to sprout, never wanting to share their bloom.

The winds and the rains came and scattered what was left.

Broken limbs decaying, hiding in unmowed grass.

 

I will not tend my garden anymore.

Let the weeds grow,

The mushrooms appear then fade overnight.

Let the bugs and the beasts find sanctuary.

I will not run them off.

Let the neighbors complain,

As they battle to control their own small plots of earth.

 

I will let God have his way.

I cannot fight what isn’t there.

My opinion is not required.

My approval is not needed.

What will be will be.

What will be will be.


Goodbyes 10/22/16

 

When I was four

They took off Bozo

For the funeral of JFK.

I remember a small boy

Saying goodbye to his father,

A salute, by his mother’s side.

 

When I was six,

I was left with my mother’s friend

As my parents attended the funeral

Of a small boy killed by a handgun.

Francis took me to the beach

And from a distance, I saw myself

Playing alone in the sparkling water.

 

Robert and Martin

Left me a few years later.

My mother crying softly

While watching the news.

The good die young

But so the bad,

Death doesn’t care

He welcomes all.

 

My best friend Solomon

Moved away

No reason was given

That a child could understand.

But watching Batman was no longer fun,

And Major Matt Mason

Was forgotten on the bookshelf.

 

In high school, my best friend

Was killed by a hit and run

On a lonely country road,

All by himself,

Lying on the cold asphalt,

Staring up at a beautiful night’s sky.

I rode to the funeral with his girlfriend,

My secret crush.

She rested her troubled head on my shoulder

But we never really talked again.

Two losses from one death.

I reminded her of him too much

To be around.

 

Death is always here,

Waiting to appear at some inconvenient time.

Faith is only a way to make life bearable,

A lie we force ourselves to believe

So we can get out of bed.

 

As I grew up

People left me in other ways.

Broken relationships and broken hearts

Scattered along life’s bumpy road.

Holding on to another

In a desperate effort to feel safe

To feel love

To feel forever.

 

The results are the same

Sitting alone hoping my broken heart will mend,

So that one day, I’ll find my happily ever after

One day my princess will come.

 

Then suddenly I just stopped,

Believing in forever.

No sudden deaths,

No abrupt departures,

Only the truth of life

That we are mortal

And there is only now.

 

So find someone to love

And accept that nothing is forever.

But moments can be filled with love, and hope, and joy,

As well as separation’s sorrow.