• I used to go the two miles
  • with my aunt and a couple of her friends from church
  • when they visited a small town graveyard
  • The ladies would always wear stiff black shoes
  • and I would always help them open
  • the heavy gate with a rusting latch
  • Then I’d walk between the mounds
  • as the women searched for the familiar graves
  • “It’s over here somewhere”
  • one of them would always remark
  • as clouds passed over their heads
  • taking away the shine
  • from brass combs and any new flowers
  • the wind would shape itself
  • through a looped fence
  • and I would always think of this man
  • who stuffed animals
  • and ask myself what the fence was for
  • and I would see faces in the clouds
  • that’s how I learned to subtract
  • seeing those faces changing form
  • while subtracting the difference on tombstone dates
  • while trying not to step on the corpses
  • that lay under my feet
  • Sometimes I would look down
  • the long dirt road that ended close to a water tower
  • and try to imagine they were still alive
  • but soon the sun started going down
  • and we would leave
  • always making sure the gate was closed

Larry Milligan was a San Diego poet who devoted much of his life to working with and feeding the homeless. He and his beloved partner, Johanna Argoud, spent many years feeding the homeless in Balboa Park and in a downtown Lutheran church. He eventually won an important lawsuit against the city protecting homeless people from being arrested for sleeping on the streets. Though Milligan was himself arrested several times for his work with the indigent, he became well liked and respected by the San Diego police. “Graveyard Poem” originally appeared in the magazine We Accept Donations, published and edited by two fellow homeless advocates, Forrest and Anne Curo. Larry Milligan died on July 14, 2011.

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Comments

nan shartel May 2, 2012 @ 2:07 p.m.

lovely...thx 4 the introduction to this neat San Diego poet...

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