Archive for December 2015

Shelter Memory for N., B., and T.   Leave a comment

I wrote this poem after getting to know three brilliant men who were staying in the men’s shelter in Santa Fe, NM. Two were graduates of Ivy League schools, all were personable, well-traveled, articulate. Life happens in ways we never believe will happen to us, but it can and it does. It was winter time and the night temperatures were below freezing. The shelter was heated, but all the men had to leave by 6 am, and find a place to be for the day until they lined up at 6 pm for a meal, and, hopefully, a bed. The three talked of how disturbing it was to try and sleep with so many men coughing through the night. A sound, they all agreed, they would never forget.

Shelter Memory

they tell of the deep continuous
coughs that plague their nights
as if every shelter man’s

story rises from ribs to become
a sad song sung in rounds
not of rowing one’s own boat

nor that life is but a dream
but rounds of cough hack
cough and sputter

afflicted racks of ribs
torments of trying to hold
in machine gun bursts of pain

these men tell how this sound
on winter nights in the overfill shelter
leaves a sound hacked into the soul

grooved into the brain
where the sound settles


Posted December 23, 2015 by strongjacksonpoet54 in My Poetry etc.

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