Monday, October 24, 2011

To The Young Man Sitting In The Park

You were sitting on the ground
in the tot park
in the middle of a sunny Sunday afternoon.
You were leaned back against
the brick stand for the drinking fountain,
wearing a dark blue security guard's uniform.

You looked to me
as if you were just so tired
that you had stopped there
and fallen asleep.

I asked you if you were all right...
your head was to one side,
like a little boy who had drifted off
while watching television.
You had on black shoes, and I had the odd thought
that you may have sat just this way,
years and years ago,
when someone taught you to tie them
on some other, happier,
sunny Sunday.

I feel certain,
though I don't really know,
that somebody loved you.
I feel certain, too,
that I will not forget the sight of your bright red blood
or your things--your wallet and keys--
placed so neatly at your side.

Why did you do this?
Did you think no one would cry?
I happen to know
that the lady on the bicycle, who found you, did...
and that she wishes, quite sharply,
that you had not made such a heartbreaking choice.


This is not a made-up story. Yesterday afternoon, riding my bike across the local kiddie park on my way home, I found the body of a young man who had shot himself in the chest just minutes earlier. I called 911, but he was dead. I don't know what to do with that. I keep seeing him, sitting there, looking so young and defenseless. So I wrote this poem.



Poets United said...

unanswerable questions...

This poem shows a real, beautiful, and empathetic approach.

I'll never forget this poem.

bless you

Helen said...

My God Shay ... I cry with you.

nene said...

Death when it comes surprisingly and untimely through an insidious life decomposing malady or by one's own hand. It is unwelcome by those who have a connection through genetics or common space.
I've witnessed many of these moments through my life's experiences, militarily and otherwise, and have shed many sincere heartfelt tears.
I share in your moment of human anguish and hopefully by you sharing in this way will be cathartic. Your personal psychological trauma will be mitigated only by time and sharing. Try not to dwell on him and subsequent assimilatiing with 'his why'. There are those that Love you and choose to 'live' life with you. Tu Amigo!

Susannah said...

Oh Shay (((hug))) x

Jeannie said...

how awful
To be the one who found him
To be him

why the kiddie park
on Sunday

Brian Miller said...

damn. sorry you had to find him....ugh...what a sad world in which we live...

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Sadly and beautifully told, Shay. You did all you could for him, the poor fellow. You cared. He likely had no idea the depth grief he will leave behind for his loved ones in trying to escape his own pain. Very sad. I love the song you posted for him: "May he find some comfort there, in the arms of the angels."

Hannah Stephenson said...

Oh my god.

I hope you're ok, Shay. You were compassionate toward him even in his death...that's meaningful.

Eric 'Bubba' Alder said...

Wow... just wow. I feel like I lost a friend just now. Things like this really make you stop and think. Thanks for sharing your experience in such a poetic way, Shay. I'm sure your words give this sad young man some measure of comfort, wherever he is now.

Randy Behavior said...

Shay I'm sorry you had to be the one to find him. Suicide causes so much pain. You may have to write a lot to dissipate the image. Hugs to you.

Mama Zen said...

I'm glad that you wrote this. I'm sorry that you had to.

hedgewitch said...

I couldn't say it any better than MZ. Life is full of so many of these questions--I don't know that they have answers, really, except whatever resignation and acceptance time brings. Your poem is almost a photograph, stripped clean to the bare essence. A beautiful song to sign it off with, too.

Christine said...

How awful for the both of you, so sad. I hope you can talk to someone about this.

Anonymous said...

you'll never forget him.

*warm hugs*
d ♥

Jenny said...

Oh Shay. I'm so sorry. For you. For him. For his family. For anyone so allergic to the world they have to take such irreversible and extreme measures.

Sending you a hug, my dear.

Lynn said...

Shay - I'm so sorry this happened to him and to you. Somehow the universe sent you to care for him - so sad.

Lolamouse said...

I am so sorry you had this horrible experience and sorry for whatever brought that poor guy to the place where he felt he had to make that choice. Inexplicable. Sending love and hugs.

ellen abbott said...

Omg Shay. What a sad experience.

Anonymous said...

So sorry, fireblossom.

I am sure this is difficult and will continue to be. Maybe this will change you in a deep way for a long time.

Thanks for the poem, you have brought him to light for us. Ultimately, no matter how we die, it is a gift to be brought forth for others to see.

Heaven said...

what a sad and tragic ending...sorry to hear about this my dear.

i like your tribute to the young man.. "heartbreaking choice" indeed ~

Sioux said...

I'm sorry that it was you that found him, but it was good that it was you...You could chronicle the senselessness of what he did.

What a sad world this is, Shay.

HermanTurnip said...

Wow. I thought the poem held a certain about of power, but when I read your comment it really drove the thing home.

Honesty, it was almost too much. *shiver!*

Holland said...

How do you give an experience like this a place and it makes me wonder if there is a place at all to give it to. Your poem is beautiful - even without the context - and it is powerful to turn such a sad event into a beautiful rhythm of words.

nene said...

In my feeble attempt to put a poignant finger print on your experience I am remiss in realizing that after this what you need is a 'hug' from all with whom you wish it to be reciprocated. Life brings us these moments and how we integrate these into our continued existence is a personal choice. At least for those of us who have that resource and capacity.
[Hugs] and [hugs] for you and your heart.

Fireblossom said...

Thank you sincerely, all of you. I found out he was only 21.

Marion said...

OMG, that is so sad. God only knows what terrors haunted the poor guy. Life is hard, really hard. You are an angel, Shay. Love the song. xoxo

Tammy said...

You brought tears to my eyes because it sounded so true. And then again because is was. I am so sorry. I hope it comforts you to know that you gave him significance like no one else could have.

The Subversive Librarian said...

Wow, Shay. Thank you for writing this -- it really touched me. We have had several suicides in our little community lately; the most recent was a gentle man with eight years of sobriety. His sponsor found him. Our clubhouse is still reeling.

Thank you for sharing this. You are not alone.

cinderkeys said...


Anonymous said...

How heartbreaking - and potentially life-altering for you to find him like that. You were right to put words to it, to share in writing this burden that is not yours but can't help but affect the caring person you are.

Jannie Funster said...

This would be a good poem for suicide prevention.

Your poetry continues to amaze me.