Memorial Day

A Prose Poem


Captain Bill Browne


Apple blossoms



Scattered in the May storms.

No sadness there—

Only poignancy

When the buds first appeared.

That feeling is often now,

Especially in the day-to-day business.


The transparent leaves permitted light,

Were chartreuse and effervescent,


They are hard green…opaque.

Spring is mostly gone,

So quickly as always.

Even before memory holds the illusion.

A friend died this spring,

Stepping from his shower as usual.

This last time forever,

Falling unconscious into the void.

We remember his faults as strengths


His subtleties as heart.

My mother sleeps most of the day.

Her memories,

The same as dreams

Are forgotten while awake,

Are forgotten while asleep.

I called and said:

“Happy Memorial Day.”

“Cousin Shirley and her grandchildren

Do the stone now.”

She said, “Oh, I was sleeping.”

“Is it that time again?”

“Your dad’s gone out.”


“I woke you!”

“Go back to sleep.”

“Have sweet dreams.”

“Give my love to dad!”


She won’t know if that was a dream or not.

Love won’t remind her.

My dad has been with the physics of energy

For a few years now.

Passing away silently and softly

Sitting in a chair

Staring at his garden

Through the opened French doors of his room.

He was struggling to know,

The next,


Theoretical and string equations,

The esoteric debris of Tibetan secrets,

The depths of love in music

And always,

The mysteries of poets.

‘Is truth conscious,’ he would muse.

We once read Carl Sagan together

For clues to consciousness


The immortal.


Were too chained

To the radical reasoning of

Intellectual gypsies and mystics.

Only he, between us, knows the truth now.

I think of him always when red dragonflies

Dip and rustle surface waters


The deep and murky depths of his Lilly pond.

I’d put wild flowers on his marker,


The priests won’t allow it.

His exclusive rest has restrictions,

Concerning unplanned vulgarity,


Emotional excess of a public kind.

According to the rules,

One must be starched and restrained

In matters of grief.


It was tempting to snitch a perfect poesy

From the high altar

In an act of criminal grief

Unrestrained by decorum.

Religion is rarely right about spiritual matters.

He might have agreed that his blessed sacrament is ‘homeless.’

His real memorials are the lives of his family


His sons, who know how fiercely he loved life


The gifts of heart he brought to them.


He gave me my first taste of vintage Chambertin,

Setting the standard in all future appreciations

Of The exquisite.

Birthday specials were Shrimp Newburg,

Waldorf Salad,

Baby asparagus


Devil’s Food cake still hot


Sweet butter and whipped cream.


Life is very hard,

Those moments were deliciously soft.

They knew then—-those two creators,


Cushioned the blow.


It shows in that baby picture,


Wild eyed on that summer emerald lawn:

Irish, magical fairy boy,

Madly waving his little arms in joy,

Standing by some future insight

In dance’s second position

In white diaper


Matching tot shoes

Fastened with a strap


Shining black button.

Dancing, round and round

With a dog named ‘Tusey’.

Laughing with delight.

Joy, a power in my child’s heart.


Still subversive,

I recall every now and then,

Particularly when weeding thorny ugly weeds


Leaving beautiful Dandelions in peace,

Churning the rich earth

Digging in sweet tomatoes


Visioning their winter’s promise of reward

In sauces, stews and pungent sweet delight,

Sun-dried with  balsamic


Slathered with olive oil in salads and omelets


Fried with a crispy coating of corn meal.


Near his end I would petition

Yes, petition like a frightened child.

Reflexively, embarrassingly petition

Up to…


‘If only?’

‘Would you?’

‘Could you listen just this once?’

‘Are you there God?’


 I would chuckle and fall back in a worldly cynicism.


Heaven’s an indifferent holy virgin


A stick to the donkey.

God’s an acrid smoke best found in

Crematoriums and abandoned ruins,

Answering with cries and pain.

Life passes like the tattered edge of a passing cloud.

Even to ancient sensibilities

Enchanting dappled light

Becomes shadow quickly


Is gone

Then light again

Over and over.

True freedom is far more expansive

Than its container.


What an adventure!

I  personally hope to go

Digging in the mulch pile

Hoping to find my fate in a future garden

Becoming a future tomato

Sharing the final harvest with my dad.


That’s a sacred communion!

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2 Responses to Memorial Day

  1. francarbonaroattnet says:

    Once wasn’t enough. I went back to read again….this one is tugging on these ragged heart strings. Remarkably beautiful piece, Michael. Thank you.

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