Posted in Death


Family burdens fall most heavily
on those without families
perhaps children are such a burden
those with
think none greater.
Death understands families
do not understand pro rata
a long siege of accompaniment – care and visits
or unexpected lightning
with no one prepared or able.

30 years too soon
we expected him to reach the new century
and then 20 beyond to his own
he seemed so strong
but his heart wasn’t
Swift betrayal. Rapid abandonment.

The house will have to be cleaned out
no one now lives in our once hometown
my father asks if I could
“it would be easier for someone without kids.”

The crush generation
volumes tightly compressed by depression
bookended by war.
International travel in khaki
to Canada and pilot training
then Europe
for adventure tourism and nightlife of a different kind.
Returning home to absconded romance
and eternal bachelorhood
an adult child living with his parents
increasing into space they vacated.

The triage was surprisingly painful.
Three piles.
That to be kept.
That to be binned.
That to be thought about.

Everything needed to be thought about
I came to know him so much better in death
the trophies of athletic youth
the medals of distinguished service
the plays of Shakespeare, the Russian classics
a first edition of The Silent Spring.

the neighbour cried when I told her
It was comforting she felt the brutality of inventory I felt
his entire possessions
socks, underpants, shoes
books, medals, trophies
comprised six cardboard cartons.
None larger than a banana box.

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Most of my life has been spent on the bench, occasionally called into the game by extravagance or attenuation. Waiting has turned a loner into a recorder - nondescript and inconsequential, more not noticed than overlooked - the non-vantage point of children not yet considered old enough to understand. Orphaned Islands (Un)poetry is a lifetime of picking anecdotes up and not throwing them away. Stories collected like odds and ends placed in a box in the basement, the garage, the garden shed - uncertain as to what their use might be but knowing that one day there might be one.