Without A Proper Eulogy

Without A Proper Eulogy


I am as a miner on his mountain of grey,

calculating the loss of sweat for profit.

The land I hold writ to name my own

will choose to remember nothing of me,

save plastic scars and scent of dusty bones.


And when I am gone, mourners will rush

to add insult on the careless print that was me.

They will stack weak stone tall in my honor

where wild flowers should forever be free to grow.

And I will sigh into the dirt, and mourn all losses.


Shirley Alexander



Filed under death, life, nature, poetry, spiritual

18 responses to “Without A Proper Eulogy

  1. I am reading this and wondering if it really needs the middle stanza, or if an entirely new middle stanza should be written. Oh well. I shall consider it further after I finish this mountain of tax forms.
    A few minutes later….
    OK! I removed the middle stanza. I didn’t feel it had anything to contribute to the poem, but for those of you who might have read it all in your email notice, I will save a couple of the lines for a future write.


  2. Drat. I missed out on the middle stanza. I will die an unhappy man, but if you can live with denying me your words, then you will have lost moire than I. So there!

    “plastic scars and scent of dusty bones.”

    Self explanatory and a symbolism of the times we are a-living in. You said it was a said poem, and you said correctly. You also said it was honest, and I say hell yes it is. This is a poem which deals with seemingly futility in the everyday grind of making things work for the future of the whole. You have many pots in the fire, Shirley, and it is amazing you have the fortitude to hang in there with them all without throwing your hands up and saying )&$%@

    But that isn’t you. I do not know you personally, but from your writings, emails, reading your Facebook, I know pretty much what kind of a person you are. This poem is probably as close as you will ever get to throwing those hands up and saying *$!~#@~

    • Thank you for coming to read, my friend. You did not miss much, Jerry. Good that I threw it out. *smile*

      “Plastic scars” is probably my favorite image from this poem. I think it is a fitting description of what we often leave in our wake when we pass.

      I don’t necessarily see this as a sad poem, except that it does mourn some for what is lost because we have journeyed through this life.

      I have been really close to throwing my hands up and saying f*** it all plenty of times lately. But, I look at my family, and I know I am still needed. So, I continue the journey, and try to leave smaller trails behind me. What else can we do? Sometimes, we are just stuck watching the rest of the movie long after the good parts are played.

  3. Peter Doyle

    Melancholic, even mournful, but I like it Shirley. : )

  4. A martyr even after death…

  5. Elaine Randall English

    And this is precisely why I advocate cremation! ha ha…nice bit

    • I like the idea of cremation too, Elaine, or at least the right to go back to something that will actually decay and contribute to the soil, like a simple pine box or linen cloth. All these steel vaults and ornate caskets seem a bit much. The only purpose I can see them serving is to allow for a digging up and re-examining in special cases. I think we could have sort of a tissue and blood bank of the dead to serve the same purpose. I would opt for cremation, but my family has a plot, and it would hurt many of them if I chose to lie anywhere except beside them. Why does it matter if we are not here anymore anyway?

    • I posted my reply to David in the wrong place. The only way I could figure out how to fix it was to change it.
      Love and hugs, Elaine. :–)

  6. belfastdavid

    I agree with you Shirley – that middle stanza added nothing, if anything it distracted from a simple yet powerful poem.

    Well done on taking it out – sometimes the most difficult thing to do! 🙂

    But I disagree with Peter – I did not find it mournful. I read it as you telling us how you would like to be remembered – with a smile on your face as you ponder on the wild flowers and natures grace.

    Good to see you making time to write and to post.

    You take good care of yourself

    Much Love

    • *Smile* It wasn’t hard to take that one out, David. Thank you for your lovely comment. I’m glad you saw something of what I was feeling in this. No, it isn’t so mournful.

      Regardless of what else is going on in my life, I will always make time to write. I have to. Time to post is usually harder to find. It has become my way of shouting out “Hey, y’all! I’m still here!”

      You take good care of yourself too, my friend.

      Much love,

  7. Jeff WB

    It is good to see you’re making time to write a little. We all know it plays a strong role in your life–and mood! This is something I would have guessed was yours if i wasn’t told. Somebody else said martyr and another person said melancholy. I don’t agree with either because I know you and you look at things different from most people. You seem to appreciate what really matters more than most. I agree with the reader who commented that it was about you appreciating wild flowers and such. In the time I have come to know more about you than what I remember of the wide eyed girl we all loved, I realized you are a very deep person spiritually. I get the impression that the title means you think the land deserves the eulogy more than people who live on it.
    Yes, I am going to the show on Sat. Hope to see both of you there. Lunch?

    • Thank you, Jeff! I am deeply touched by your comment. You have more insight than you know. You should allow yourself credit where poetry, and the deeper furrows of everyday living are concerned. Maybe you could explain some of my poetry to “other” members of your family. *sly grin*

      The garden show was lovely, and the lunch was a really pleasant surprise. We must do again!

      Much love,

  8. Hi Shirley,

    It’s good to see you posting poems and writing. I have missed your talents of late. 🙂
    This is most impacting! I have read, walked away and read again to try to gather my thoughts.
    I don’t feel there is anything lost at all in the poem not having a middle stanza. It’s beautiful just the way it is.

    I feel a lot of strength in this poem. Strength that has come from a deeper knowledge of the world and the land, “grace and dignity in the face of trials” springs to mind.
    The respect for the land really comes to the fore too. It almost seems to be as much about the land as the individual.
    “And I will sigh into the dirt…” I love this line! It is so expressive to me and really conveys the relief of finally coming to rest.
    This poem has the power to provoke sadness, beauty and a feeling of strength. A really wonderful, beautiful crafted poem!

    I hope you’ve had a most lovely weekend.
    with much love
    (((BIG HUGS)))

    • Tikarma,

      I am most pleased to know you like this, and see the strength in it. It is about respecting the land and all the beauty it gives us.

      “Grace and dignity in the face of trials” is likely a good description of the Earth herself, rather than of me. We have a unique world. Even if others similar do exist, they are flung too far into the heavens for us to ever walk along the shores of their seas, or bask in the sunlight on their meadows. We should appreciate what we have here, at hand, and take the very best care of it. We do not own the land. We are merely squatters who have taken an unfair advantage of the lack of a security deposit.

      My week has been busy, worrisome, and rewarding–all on different levels and to do with different things and people. In all of that, I have received the gift of having my faith in a higher power strengthened. This was not an easy task, in relation to me. I am a tough old bird who is very much set in her ways. In other words, I am a stubborn old fool. *laughing at myself*. But, I shall come around–eventually.

      Much love, and (((BIG WARM HUGS)))

  9. Jim Turner

    Shirley, I have read both versions and I believe you quite properly did that painful “surgery.” That 2nd stanza not contributed little besides a bit of confusion. Much of my “stuff” could stand some throwing out but deleting my beautiful words (aren’t they always?) is like sticking needles under my fingernails.

  10. Thank you. It usually is for me too, Jim–like needles. But, this one was a no-brainer. That middle stanza didn’t belong at all!
    I want to find time, sometime this summer, to go through and edit some of my older poetry. I would love to have a book ready to share with my old friends before my class reunion in August.