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for Kenneth M. Tierney Rice


Where were you
when heroes
rained from heaven?
Shooting stars
falling free
over the Lone Star state,
February 1st, 2003.
Columbus' namesake
signaling the end of exploration.

Where were you
when the world
came crashing down?
Storm clouds forming
on the ground
on a clear blue day,
September 11th, 2001.
Towering monuments
to a fractured world.

Where were you
when young boys played
war at recess?
Trench coats in classrooms,
S.W.A.T. teams
on the playgrounds,
April 20th, 1999.
Blood red flowers
for a nation’s troubled youth.

Where were you
when our brother
saw his last dawn?
Broken consciousness
on a fencepost
in a silent wilderness,
October 12th, 1998.
Blood-matted hair
a glimpse of blind intolerance.

Where were you
when crumbling buildings
fell on deaf ears?
Truck bombs in the heartland,
tragedy in the nursery,
destruction on the television,
April 19th, 1995.
Remnants of an OK city
holding vigils for our innocence.

Where were you
for all of this
and so much less?
Your laughs and smirks, jokes and jibes?
Your passion and your touch?
You missed it all and left us to face it alone,
March 7th, 1994.
Safe in an urn
at your mother’s side –
Inaccessible to all,
untouched by the world,
holding a peace of our dreams.


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Ashes, by Paul Cales, © September 2003