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haley Jul 1
at eight
i stood at open closed caskets and planted plastic flowers
upon silent graves;
in the backseat on the way to my grandfather's wake
mom and dad played a song about angels over the stereo. they
had to turn it off when i burst into tears.
i did not understand the twenty one gun salute
but i left a piece of myself in the folding of the flag,
left it with forty nine stars in the wrinkled hands of the widow.
vulnerable, kissing the loss of the dewy cemetery, the fresh dirt and

at thirteen
she was stolen at the hands of another,
just after her forty-second trip around the sun;
i cradled my always strong father as he cursed god on the kitchen floor.
the night my sister cried into my shoulder i read ten different articles,
each one with a headline reading "manslaughter", while
the soles of my feet knew it meant "murder".
the pool of blood flashed to my vision and
i've spent seven years trying to bleach the stain out
from behind my eyelids -
lighting a memorial candle at my future wedding, graduation, childbirth
my mother did not deserve generic music at her remembrance.

at sixteen
i squeezed into a pew as
the church sanctuary was too small for her service.
widely loved and widely known, she
had been sick for fourteen years with no rest; fought
collapsed lungs and bared organs and
her eyes were as soft as the words she would leave you with.
her breath marooned the thirteenth of february and
on valentine's day, my best friend received a rose at her doorstep
with a note that read, "i love you more than chocolate.
love, mom".

at nineteen
we did not have class for one week. his daughter was five years old
and he was two semesters away from
getting his bachelor's degree in a helping profession;
he sat two rows ahead of me, one seat over
next to a boy named aaron and an empty chair.
the pastor spoke of a freedom from pain,
joy joy, hallelujah, a man who loved god;
they did not disclose the cause of death the morning the dean
entered our classroom,
spoke three words and
the silence fell -
sometimes, sometimes, we will never know why.
i was thinking about funeral songs the other morning. i realized that, at my mother's funeral, they only played songs she probably would have hated; and then i got angry at how unfair that is. here's a poem.
J Fawn Apr 12
I remember mostly vividly
two memories with you.

One when you told me
he would be my father
and I had to call him father.
But it was you, and you
were always right.

One when you saw me
and remembered my name
and I loved you in that moment.
Because you know many names, but you
still remembered mine.

I remember most fuzzily
memories that are mostly hearsay.

You carried me as a baby
You fed me and bathed me and clothed me and you
taught me wisdom in every action
and I
will never finish learning it all.

I remembered most vividly,
two memories with you.
But today it is

One more

when I saw you
and remember you loved me in every moment
and even as you will never see me again
and even as I will learn many names

I will remember yours.
Written at the funeral of a family friend. She was like a grandmother to me, and a great many other people.
I’m not supposed to be grieving
My Baby wasn’t supposed to die
How did this happen
How did I wind up counting dead roses
How did I wind up being reminded of proper funeral decorous
I can’t explain what’s going on
Something happened when that boy came along
That boy who started dating my firstborn son…
What has that boy done?

I’m not supposed to be burying my baby,
Shouldn’t be standing by a pile of dirt with no one to clutch my hand
I shouldn’t have ice in my heart over my pride and joy as I hold his jersey
How did anything ever go wrong for us
How did a present, devoted, loving mother and a smart, strong, sweet boy end up here
How could God let us find ourselves in a cemetery we have no way out of
I can’t reconcile this horrible day with real life
Something went terribly wrong
When that boy came along

I’m not supposed to be crying this hard nonstop
It was all so nice a week ago, throwing big parties
I shouldn’t be making a speech about my son in front of everyone
He supposed to be grounded for when his music rattled the room every day
But he’s not home, he’s supposed to be with me but he’s not
How did that boy who’d been so polite to me bounce into our lives and end everything good
Everything was wonderful like a Hallmark card
Until that cursed boy came to tear it apart

How? Why?
Why, why, why?
vera Mar 20
Imagine a single breath,
left alone in a hollow chest.

Grey seeping into white
Color bleeding out like a pen,

Violating the marrow of my bones.
The blue-black of my veins,
Lost against my feathery skin.

The union of so many memories,
Real and imagined.

Black blazers shrouding me,
with prayers and tears.

Convinced in the everlasting,
As much as I was for awakenings,
I close my eyes (and dream).
Emily Mar 4
She's the only woman I know
Who could wear a sheer net shirt,
Bra and breasts exposed,
To a small town funeral
She's the only woman I know
Who flicks cigarette ash
Off of a no smoking sign
Embedded on a wire table at a wake
Name changed to protect the identity of the person this about
Vivian Zems Feb 25
“stay low, go fast,

kill first, die last,

one shot, one kill,

no luck, all skill”

(Unofficial Navy Seal Slogan)

I stand at the graveside watching
as each person steps forward
to throw dirt on the coffin

I study each face closely
and marvel at all humanity
What is it about funerals
that causes all to attend?

And yet in a life well spent
not a visit, not even a scent
I laid down my life, as you see
laid it so they could be free

It must be a sense of duty
now they come to visit me
Oh- the hypocrisy of humanity!
And now another journey awaits me

I soar to meet passing clouds
caught in the upstream of wind
a final glance, and just by chance
I catch your eyes following me

©Vivian Zems
Emily Feb 9
The last time I was here
It had been free drinks on the house
It had been a celebration
A taunt
This was how far we’ve come
This is how far we have yet to go

You can’t catch us
For we’re having too much fun
Flirting, talking, chatting
Ideas and hopes
For this year
And the year it had been

It’s different now
Solemn without solace
The haphazard roof
Over haphazard concrete
Where music blasts
And is not played
Where thoughts are delayed

For thoughts bring tears
And tears bring pity
I can’t stand it
The twilight air
Suffocates me
As people stop
And stare

I want to stay
I want to go
I want to live another day
And I want to know
What is beyond the boundary

Let’s have a party
In a building turned funerary
Barbed wire fences
And railroad tracks
Life is seen between cracks
I’ve come so far
And yet I haven’t progressed at all

A waxing crescent moon,
Canescent, anxious light
Illuminates the eerie sky
Free from shadow, free from stars
But not free from sin
This is the realm of illusory serenity
Under celestial blessing
I walk the path I’ve always known

A single road
A lonely road
Gravel cuts the underside
Of my aching feet
As I march under moonlight
So that I may
Taste the sweet and sour
The good and the bad
The grief
And the peace
For my cousin, may she rest in peace.
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