Poem: Those Who Remember

Those Who Remember


I wonder why certain deaths break my heart

even as I think of life death life death, breathing out in

as a beating heart, not a broken one 

and obedient lungs.

The aching ones are often not the ones I’d expect.

Maybe it’s when death is unexpected 

for them

for me

unexpected names, memories

from too many beats ago

my reckless disregard or too great certainty

the wrong kind

for what is certain is the end.

Maybe it’s when there are children, left forever

well, not forever, not for them either

who look so alike, are so much like them

they might not have left at all.

Sometimes I can’t even catch my breath or

slow my mind to catch up to the absence

of people who had been absent

for whom I’d been absent

for so long, or maybe not long at all

a single beat


Always, then

I hug my son,

Go for a walk or out to dinner with him

We come back home and

I get back at it

Isn’t that awful

Just keep going with one more ache

One more wound 

Until it stops

And the wound is for others 

For those who’ve forgotten me

And for those who remember.


A 1960s photo sheet of three identical images, two on the left side next to a larger one, of a man wearing glasses, a white dress shirt, and a tie sitting at a dining room table, thrilling over his birthday cake, with a cake cutter poised to slice into it.Please Like or Share using the WordPress and social media buttons below. You can also leave a comment—please let me know what you feel or think. Other poems on this site include:

While writing Those Who Remember, I kept hearing the words at the end of my fairly long and little-read autobiographical piece Bowling in Chicago, which concludes: “This I know: The people you love, you always love.”

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