Day of the Dead
by Robert Frost

I didn't plan on this
so I didn't see it comin',
see, I was out for coffee
and found myself
driving past
those once upon a time places;
surreal and captured
like in a daydream from another lifetime.
Places where important people once lived -
those rare folks
who leave memories
too deep to shake,
often, extraordinary people
who made a difference.

I was in George's town
wondering exactly where he lived
and if he's buried there
or back home in Macon;
wondering how and why
we became friends
and thanking God for it.
"Say what you mean
and mean what you say"
he'd declare as he dealt
euchre at lunch break.
"It cuts clean through all the bullshit, Bobby."
Honesty pure and simple -
and rich.
He died kind of suddenly
a few months after I changed jobs,
and nobody told me
'til I happened to ask someone how he was doing.
I'm still kind of pissed about that too.

I passed by Dan's old hunting and fishing store,
all grey and lifeless and ramshackle now
like somebody's crappy little barn or something.
Dan was a retired cop
you'd probably expect to be one of those
knuckle-dragging macho dudes with an attitude.
When it was just us two,
we'd talk about his granddaughter
he and his wife were raising
'cause the mother took off
and his son's just a no good.
God, how he loved that little girl -
poured his heart out
right there
between the live bait
and the Smith & Wessons.

I stopped for my coffee
and this guy with red Velcro sneakers and bad teeth
insisted I go ahead of him.
Said he had "all day 'til the sun goes down."
I moved along and asked "Then what?"
"Then I'm done . . ." he said,
and he looked away.
I couldn't help but wonder
exactly what he meant,
so I checked when I got home -
said sunset was at 6:51
and I made a mental note of it
for some reason
and forgot all about it
'til the next morning.
Still wonder sometimes
how that turned out.

I was pumping gas
and ran into this guy I used to work with.
He was catching me up on all the old gang -
said JJ died a while back.
Now, I never much cared for JJ
'cause he was one of those
who had it all figured out.
Bragged he knew how to beat the system
and get paid for doing next to nothing -
spent more time and energy on that
than if he'd just gone on and done his damn job.
How I hated that smart-assed smirk of his,
but I wouldn't wish his fate on anyone.
He died alone
unless you count his two cats
who ended up eating half his face off
before the neighbors found him
nearly two weeks later.
He probably didn't figure on that . . .

I stopped for lunch at a little park
with my coffee and submarine,
and found a big rock (a boulder, actually)
with a woman's name
chiseled into it.
I knew this woman way back when -
hadn't thought of her in years
since I heard she took her life.
She sponsored a Little League team I coached
and threw a big pool party after the season ended.
All the pizza and cake those little boys could eat!
Even way back then,
she wore that sad smile like she owned it.
Anyway, the rock says "I am free,"
and some other words with her name right there
beneath 'em all.
That gal sure was loved,
'cause somebody probably donated the land for the park
so there'd be a place for that big ol' rock
with her name and all those other words
chiseled in it.
And somebody planted flowers . . .

My old town
is a town like any other -
like all towns I suppose.
Towns with warm homes
where families live,
and cold dark places
where love often dies.
Love died in my old house there -
(died as love always dies)
sad and empty
from disease and neglect,
all bloody
from homicide, suicide,
and other natural causes.
Hearts broken violently
in those sad sad shadows.

These are the soft words of the dead -
little whispers
from worlds deep within
and from worlds well beyond.
Somewhere behind the shades
I weep for every one,
and I smile a little
and pray for love.
You see -
love is not enough,
and sometimes,
sometimes -
it's just too much . . .

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