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Graveyard Poem

A poem by Larry Milligan

  • 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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  • 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
1

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

May 2, 2012

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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