Category Archives: death

What I Kept

I have been doing a bit of quick editing on some of my un-posted poetry from the past, with the mind that I am ready to share some of them. Still trying to find time to write new, happier ones. In the meantime…here’s this.

What I Kept

One last glimpse of sun filters through opal clouds.
For a moment, the world is tipped with transient gold.
Then, time is ink bled from heaven to drown all light.
I measure steps, and walk into an endless dream.

Is it you, or some fanciful resemblance?
Reassurance?  Whatever the reason, it is desperate.
But my hand trembles, becomes a fist, as I recoil
from the frozen indifference in your eyes.

Morning offers no gentle awakening,
save an intangible memory of movement,
of firelight licking across liquid skin.
Some dreams cannot survive sunshine.

An ardent hunger rides the winter wind,
borne from these dreams, sorrow, and guilt
of a young girl grown fragile too quickly;
of memories that never were, or will be.

You gave me a love I can never breathe to life;
a dream reckoned to angry reason by time.
You left me.  You left me when I needed you.
My heart grows small, and I am much afraid.

Shirley Alexander


Filed under death, life, love, poetry

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

More Than She Knew

More Than She Knew

She sits by a bright, bare window
in a chair that has seen too much wet.
She is picking on days in her past,
fingers digging nervously into scalp.
Her nails are unkempt and bloody.
It’s an old habit, this searching for answers
in any place her palms can reach.

Last month it was a sore on her knee;
the month before, she became convinced
a bone was coming through her ankle.
She felt for it continuously, with vigor,
until a round bloody hole was dug.
The dirty bandage is still there,
though no one will ever visit to see it.

Sometimes she can do nothing but scream.
Her voice carries down hallways to haunt
the dreams of someone else‘s company.
Strangers wonder what torments her so.
They walk by her door; see the frail body,
eyes closed, mouth open, hands searching.
They look away, and walk away, quickly.

The young doctor comes every Tuesday
to perform a cursory update in her chart.
Depression. Obsessive. Compulsive.
Possible history of post traumatic dementia.
But, when the hall lights go down at night,
she remembers a happy house on Crystal Lake,
and a girl who searched for answers in her palm.

Shirley Alexander


I was a volunteer in a local nursing home for several years. I would help with baths, do manicures, brush hair, clean dentures, read books out loud, and (more often than not) just sit and listen. I saw so much pain.

This poem is really a compilation of many characters. There actually was a lady from a place called Crystal Lake, or so she said. There were screamers, women who scratched holes in their scalps, and one man who dug for bones in his feet. It always seemed to me that they were digging for answers, mostly as to what had happened to bring them to this place in their lives. It broke my heart every time I went, but I went, because most of them expected me.

All of the women, and sometimes the men, I talked with told me they were going home soon. None of them knew their houses had already been emptied and re-occupied by other people, usually the very family members who never visited.

I quit going to the nursing home when I started taking care of my brother. I have not been back, and most of the people I knew there are gone now. I doubt I will ever do it again. I am getting older myself, and I have already seen too much pain for my years. Still, it worries me when I think of myself, and of Dude, and where we might be, not so many years from now.


Filed under death, life, poetry

Red Mourning

Red Mourning

The day we buried Eddie, it snowed.
We gathered like penguins on ice,
all in black; black suits, dresses,
black umbrellas turned against gusts.

Black veils shrouded our hearts in grief,
and draped into the open hole of his life.

But she stood like a wounded heart,
splayed and bleeding its fire,
dressed all in red; red dress, shoes,
red umbrella kissing the sky.

Scarlet veils bled love from her veins,
and dripped into the open whole of his life.

People will talk. She said nothing
until the last flower was laid in snow.
Red is my love’s favorite, she whispered
to those silent men with black shovels.

I want to know he looks down from heaven;
smiles me vibrant in this cold and lonely world.

Shirley Alexander


Filed under death, love, poetry, romantic