On the dead

dsc_0019Every other Saturday the gardeners come,
but I will never know all their names.

They are in the back now blowing out leaves,
tearing out the dead,
raking up beds,
making it all go away—

But the next morning the leaves are back
like the dead
they keep falling too:
nameless, indistinct,
gathered by curbs, the ground,
unseen by most,
a vague clutter.

The next day after sunrise the lake has turned from pink to gray,
and I think there’s nowhere else I’d rather be today.

And the knobby old hand that leans by the lake,
the arm of a tree that has no leaves,
has caught the colored bobs of an angler’s line,
that dangle from the branches like Christmas balls
from a tree dragged to the curbside
to be taken away—

Oh to the dead and unknown,
will someone please
make them go away?

Categories: death, poetry

Tags: , , , , , ,

19 replies

  1. “gathered by curbs”
    That’s just incredible. And the rest is pretty damn good as well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, thanks Mark! Glad you liked that phrase, cool. Fun time of year to reflect and refract and all that. Happy for you to read. Bill


      • A few years ago, when I was really, really involved in blogging and a group of fellow bloggers/writers who were self-publishing and some wrote fiction and some wrote poetry, I dabbled for the first time in exploring poetry. Very amateurish efforts as far as I’m concerned. It’s been a couple of years since then and I struggle again with the idea of writing poetry. It’s little blips like that — “gathered by curbs” — in the context of a larger poem that both convince me I shouldn’t bother with writing poetry again while challenging me to give it a try again.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Oh you should do it Mark. I took a cue from Ray Bradbury in his book “Zen and the Art of Writing,” where he insists all writers should read/write poetry regularly. If you think about that and read him, you might sense some urgency in his writing that comes from that I think. That whole compaction thing, or cutting out the fat, or rhythm thing — god, just took me five tries to spell that word and I dare not try again — but don’t get in your own way with it, have a go. I used to hate reading poetry and much of it, I still do — but I’m determined to write poems that are accessible and enjoyable and provoke people, that’s my goal. It helps with the writing overall I think too.


      • It’s something I know and for that short period when I was writing poetry, I think my writing improved. Not from compaction but from writing with more of a rhythm. More flow. I’m struggling with writing. Maybe trying the write poetry again may re-open the door.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, good luck with that struggle man.


  2. Nice visuals with the angler’s line and Christmas tree. I guess at the end we just want them gone from sight. Our fall has been off with some trees changed and mostly bare and many still green and full of leaves. I can’t remember that happening before but it probably happens every year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We kind of missed last autumn, when we were in Scotland. I mean it as obviously autumn there too, but the thing is, no real trees to speak of — seems they chopped them all down and burned them, more or less. Scabrous countryside, and then the cities, not much trees you know. There were some out on the coast but by the time we got there they were stripped bare.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. There’s no sadder sight come the new year than all the discarded Christmas trees left on the curb for collection – all dropping needles, brown twigs with no green left, sometimes scraps of tinsel or a forgotten bauble still hanging there. Like the ghosts of Christmas, aren’t they? Super, lovely words – just so right for this time of year, with nature retracting, withdrawing life from the world, Cracking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah there you go with the sonic word thing, the cracking, good one. We have good friends who told us a story once, that when they were younger and really poor, they’d wait until after Christmas to go get a tree from the curb and prop it up in their house. Hardly sounds believable, but if you knew these friends, you’d believe it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ha! Did they postpone Christmas too? Have a second celebration just for the tree? There was this weird little Scandinavian film shown on the BBC a few years ago, following the life of a Christmas tree from the tree’s POV. As you can imagine, it ended in tragedy 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Really like this. Revel in that morbidity! Memento mori.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. the ghosts of holidays past –


  6. Great imagistic poem. Love it. “A vague clutter” is sticking with me for some reason …

    Speaking of death, the neighbor’s cats keep bringing us their dead birds, like they’re paying their taxes or something. I wish I could convince them that we’re nice to them for free!

    Liked by 1 person

    • They must be cozying up to you, like looking for a new shack or something. Cats are funny like that. I’m happy you liked it, happy you called it imagistic too. Some of those images swirling around like leaves, glad they landed right by your feet. I’m tired, first really full day of work in like, a LONG time.


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