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

Things That Go “Bump!” In The Night

Things That Go “Bump!” In The Night

A thin layer of my mother’s womb still covered my face at birth.
When that ominous veil was lifted, the only sight I saw was reality.
But, I have the gift of caution from every glance of my mother’s eyes.

The life line on my right palm is broken into four sections;
each wanders off in a different direction from the rest.
This means nothing in years. It is the mark of individualism.

I have a space between my two middle toes, and the next toe
is longer than the biggest one. This does not make me Lord
and Master of the house. It makes my feet hurt in dress shoes.

I read cards, tea leaves, stones, pluck petals from unfortunate daisies,
and the only thing it gives me is time to think about time wasted.
Heaven is all that is in the stars for me, and that is too far to reach.

So, when I see you look at her, your lips curled in anticipation;
or maybe it is memory of some moment shared, I am reassured
by the knowledge that signs mean nothing in the larger picture.

Shirley Alexander
Jan. 2011


Filed under life, love, poetry

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



He wrote a simple poem, the kind best read alone;
no pretences, or awkward dictionary interruptions.

But, one line went around in an intriguing way.
It was broader, deeper than what I had first seen.

I inserted myself into the crevice, pushed
against walls of understanding, until

the whole thing fell apart in my head,
and what I found inside those words
was magic

Shirley Alexander


Filed under poetry

A Time To Break Down


A Time To Break Down


Take care of what you hold now,
this pulsing mass you recognize as sex.

Listen intimately to soft noises in this room,
these clandestine whispers of you, owning me.

It is the urgent beat of my heart,
They are the cries of abandoned control
as it swells beyond my guard,
leaps into throat, slides across tongue,

slips from wet, swollen lips to land
mute, in the dry cup of your greedy hands.

Shirley Alexander


Filed under life, love, 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

Fear of Falling


Fear of Falling

Fifty years ago, my sister and I raced across a long, high porch;
jumped off the end to fly across daffodils and old barking dogs.

That was before my sister fell.
She sprained her arm on harder ground.
Afterward, I would run across the porch,
leap into abandon, arms open to sky.

My sister would run to the edge,
brake a full stop, sit down, and cry.
I never understood her fear of jumping,
or the tears she shed for what was lost.

I spent a lifetime long jumping from one thrill to the next, fearless.
Then, one day I took the highest leap, for love. Now I understand.

Shirley Alexander


Filed under life, love, poetry