Tuesday, May 3, 2011


"They messed up his mouth."  
Momma scolds the funeral home,
under her breath,
as her hand tentatively hovers
over your closed face.

Now, your lips are thin smudges
that barely cover the teeth.
Your lips were full once.
I remember.
I used to watch them.

As a child,
I watched
as they told stories, jokes, and dreams
while we all sat at the kitchen table.
The words that came then were
more restful than sleep.

I watched too
to distract myself from
the ungodly fear that I felt
when their pursing gave way to
the clench of your fists.

You are so small,
like a child
wearing his father’s suit,
as you lie there
in the box.

Ten years before,
the suit fit you well.
I remember.
You sat at your desk
counting the days take,
pausing at intervals to
wet your finger with your tongue
to make the job easier.

With head down and
eyes focused intently
on your task,
you asked if I would be coming home
for the holidays.
I made some excuse,
a hollow one, that
made it obvious that
you would not be seeing me
that year.

Just for a moment,
you looked up.
The expression on your face was
the same one you wore
the night that
Momma fell.

I was shocked and

To my surprise,
the box holds more than
a once was,
hastily bound together with
paper, wire, and glue.

All of your wounds
have risen to the surface.

I stand,
I look, and
I can't help but wonder:
Which ones did I inflict?


  1. I really enjoyed this read... nicely written.

  2. I feel like this could be tightened with some precise cuts. The good images are good enough that they don't require some of the connective tissue you have between them. The first stanzas of the first two sections are particularly good. Tough topic to handle well, nice work.

  3. dang...hard emo in this one...i have buried a child before and it took me there in the second even though it was an allusion...how many did i inflict as well was very potent

  4. I lost my Daddy 3 years ago...this brought me right back to dealing with the arrangements
    My mother insisted on buying him new socks.

  5. An intensely emotional piece with a very strong ending. I lost my father when I was a teen and I can relate to noticing which features were messed up.

  6. so amazing what memories stand out when a loved one is lost. strong emotion is here, and i really felt throughout the whole read. wonderfully done.

  7. Wow. The first part ends with a verbal (and physical) punch, but that second part with the unexpected pain in the father's face. Great stuff.

  8. Wow,so emotional. I saw my father when he passed before the burial and it's so powerful.

  9. This poem is a work in progress that I fear might never be finished. It may be too personal. I'm so touched that the poem touched you. Thank you all for your comments and constructive criticism.

  10. When in similar circumstance, I simply said "things could have been different."

  11. I could feel the emotions! Very well written..

  12. There is a whole story in this poem of relationships, love and regrets. You have woven these things together beautifully and your love for your Grandfather shines through. If I can see it then I am sure he could. We all have regrets, maybe it's time to forgive yourself...

  13. Wow! This is a blow right to the solar plexus of filial guilt and love.
    I felt it, even tasted the bitterness on my tongue.
    Excellent work.

  14. Beautiful writing. Incredibly real and present.

  15. Damn, that was painfully beautiful. Very well penned.