Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, October 3, 2010


by Ben Rasnic

The first time I remember
hearing about death,
my father’s best friend had nestled
a double barrel shotgun under his chin,
blew his face apart & splattered
his brains against the bedroom wall.

I was told
he passed away
in his sleep.

As kids we would roam
the neighborhood cemetery after dinner
fascinated by the polished granite headstones--
would read each one aloud
engraving mental notes
on who lived the longest
and who died the youngest
as if all that mattered
could be reduced to simple mathematics,

life and death
merely another set of statistics
to decipher

and finding humor in every equation,
would calibrate our scariest faces,
creating ghost sounds and laughing as we ran,
often to trip over markers
camoulflaged by freshly laid wreathes

inevitably to stumble upon
that one familiar name book-ending
a bed of freshly turned earth,
the cryptic inscription chiseled
into smooth gray stone
mirrors faces ashen as chalk
from the flash awareness
that the man who laughed like Santa Claus
and taught us how to throw a curve ball
was never coming back, his discarded flesh
encased a couple of yards beneath our feet;

seven adolescents standing silent as statues
seemingly for an eternity
until finally someone mutters
“it’s getting late”,
then dispersing like shattered glass
or the ripple effect from skipping stones
across Johnson’s Pond;
head our separate ways
for the comfort of home,

stopping only
to give the dog
a big tail waggin hug
like nobody’s business.

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