Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"News of Your Death Comes Like Rain"

[Hope you enjoy this very powerful poem by B.N.]

News of Your Death Comes Like Rain

Iris 1960-1989

I don't know why it is a rainy day and we are just eight years old
At Catskill game farm, we clutching our lunches in wet brown
Paper bags-- the odor of disappointment and damp hay.
The reluctant animals peered out from the drizzle except
For a mangy North American wolf too sick to move away
From his big red plastic water bowl and the whole class
Trying to cram in under one awing and two picnic tables.
And if the rain could have washed us clean it would have that day.

That was the year Mrs. Leoni, the special Ed teacher died
Of a stroke on the floor of her classroom, and all those
Children drifted out of the room and down the halls they were found
Wandering, clutching red trucks, dolls and dustpans—
Emissaries of misfortune. And everyone horrified as they realized
The children had to step over the body to get out the door.
Before that we used to walk Howie with his
"Lost In Space" lunch box passed his own house as a joke

But Howie too stepped over the dead, and that spring his
Mother also died after the Bar Mitzvah nobody went to
He was sent away to an institution named for the trees,
Or some other bit of nature that carries an inkling toward
I heard that after a few years powders, liquids and needles blossomed
In our blood stream. One by one we have each been greeted and
Bid farewell, red paper Chinese lanterns set for a celebration
Extravagant hearts strung up in a criminal dark.

In the prison hospital grace is small and metal gated.
They allow you to drink from a straw. But you are
Handcuffed and strapped down and every time they change
The I.V. they call for extra guards. One drop of your
Blood could infect one hundred hearts.
On the phone your sister told me that you died
Tuesday morning on a cot welded to a chain link cage
Unaware of forgotten animals and morning rain.

© to the author 1989-2010


  1. Wow, that is indeed powerful. And moving.

  2. takes one's breath away, heartbreaking

    i have death on the brain this morning as last night we finally got around to watching the german film 'cherry blossoms' - check it out, another powerful piece of art dealing with death, but in a different way from b.n's poem....

  3. This poem is beautiful and moving at the same time. Although I hadn't thought of the movie Cherry Blossoms in connection with this, it is also beautiful and moving.

  4. Hi Alan, Mouse & Christine

    Alan: Glad you liked it.

    Mouse: Yes, heartbreaking indeed. Will keep Cherry Blossoms in mind.

    Christine: I agree about the poem, & now am intrigued about the film.

  5. Hi John

    Who is BN?

    the poem was very powerful - vivid...

    happy days

  6. Hi Delwyn: BN is an old friend of mine from my days at the University of Virginia graduate writing program back in the 80s. She's an excellent poet, & I've been posting the poems from an unpublished manuscript of hers on alternate Tuesdays for the past several months. The other Tuesdays are poems by another good friend of mine, LE Leone. BN has asked that only her initials be used. You can see a pic of her from graduate school days about halfway down the page; there's also one of LE Leone.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  7. The long, almost rambling verses and the dry, laconic voice delivering the narrative give the poem enormous power and poignancy. A remarkable poem, haunting and memorable.

    Has BN published?

  8. Hi Dick: BN has been published in literary magazines, but as far as I know that was all in the 80s & 90s. Obviously, her poems should be available in book form, but at least in the States, the poetry publishing game is such a tangle of nepotism that the cream often doesn't rise to the top.


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