Poetry for funerals

On occasions, I am asked to speak at funerals and memorial services, and for these occasions, I normally compose and recite a poem. Afterwards, there are sometimes requests for copies of such poems from people for whom I do not have a valid e-mail. This page is that remedy.

 

This first one goes all the way back to 2002.

 

Ghostlight

For Jeff Nored

 

If this theater has ghosts

You had better not be one of them;

Hanging out past the cut like a sad stagehand

with no life he wants to go home to.

They’re lining up to praise your work

How you made crappy gear do tricks

Miserable people smile

Doomed shows happen anyway.

A good hand in a tight spot.

You had many fine hours on this job.

Were they your finest?

I hope not.

You were too good of a human being

to have your life defined

by your job description

But that’s all we have to work with.

You always guarded your privacy better than your tools.

There’s gloves here, with your name on them.

And when some new guy walks in without a pair

He won’t know exactly who to thank either.

 

When we say, “The Show Must Go On…”

That’s an inside joke

And if you don’t get it

This business will make you crazy.

This show will go on, of course,

And it won’t be as good, of course,

But the audience will never know the difference.

We will. But get this straight:

You don’t need to hover around like a ghostlight.

You’re cut.

You’re off the clock.

Go home.

Soon enough, we will be joining you.

 

Then you can finally buy all those drinks you died owing us.

 

 

By Tony Padegimas

[8-02]

 

The next one was September 2014.

 

Some Facts about Fishing with my Father

 

(As read at his memorial service – 20 November, 2013)

 

 

My earliest memories of my father

are watching football with him,

meaning he sat on the couch trying

to watch the game while his son

Orbited that couch like a tiny hurricane.

 

As I grew older he tried

to teach me how to fish,

meaning he sat on the shore demonstrating

whatever he did with lines and hooks while his son

Bounced around the rocks like a hyperactive frog.

 

I am hyperactive;

a fact like the color of my eyes.

So my father, a problem-solver by trade, adapted to this fact.

We would go hiking,

meaning he would huff up the trail while his son

Orbited around him through the wilderness.

 

One of my last boyhood memories

of my father

is the backpacking expedition

I talked him into.

There was no orbiting.

I packed a bag nearly as heavy as I was

I picked the route

and got us lost

(foreshadowing much of my future)

but we laughed together

that night in the wilderness

Shortly before he disappeared from my life.

My father was a workaholic;

a fact like the color of his hair.

Unemployment led to depression led

to a running vehicle in a closed garage.

 

I was one step into manhood when

his letter reached me

with the story of how he came out

from that dark room full of poison.

“I realized,” he wrote, “that the problem

had been myself all along.

I was the problem.

And that was a problem I could solve.”

The man who found his way

out of that garage

is the one most of us here remember.

It is a fact that I did not grow up

with my father

and observed his life as much as a

cautionary tale than as a

model to emulate.

Yet

the man had his moments;

more than I give him credit for.

He told me once

perhaps to stop my whining

as he picked the fishing hook oout of my jacket:

“It’s all hard.

All of it.

But when you realize that,

It starts to get easier.”

In later years, I would realize his secret

about that backpacking trip:

we were never lost.

He let me think we were lost

to see if I could figure it out

like fathers do.

Now, a good preacher

could teach a lesson here

about how Our Father lets us

lose our way in the wilderness

To see if we can figure it out.

 

My father was such a preacher,

once upon a time,

but his son is a poet.

poets just blurt out secrets

Trying to set up the punch-line.

 

So…

 

I am an outdoorsman

who never learned to fish.

A stigma in some circles

and totally my fault.

 

I am also a Cowboys fan

who does not live in Dallas

A stigma in many circles

and that ….

 

That I can blame totally

on my father.

Totally.

By Tony Padegimas

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