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“…I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world…”
-Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”

Dedicated to my son, Petty Officer MMN2, Benjamin E. Norman who died in a weather-related automobile accident when his car hit a telephone pole. He was twenty years old.


Driving past each pole,
one by one in the chill night air,
those wooden fingers point up
(towards God?)
mocking me in their solid, straight, stillness.

Which one is the killer?
What should I scream at?
The rain?
The curve?
The darkness?
The Almighty?
The son?


My wife lost her faith the last night of Shiva.


FUCK YOU, GOD! she screamed,
as we passed another silent pole in the dark.
Please pull over if you need to, I say,
worried her tears will lead us off the road.


I hear her whisper
I got nothing. I’m out of here.
And she is gone
before the service is over
leaving mourners, comforters, friends
looking confused.


We drive home in silence.
Each pole reminded me of the
impermanence and hubris of life-
the arrogance that says
if we play by the rules
we’ll be rewarded in the next life,
each pole playing along,
pointing up to where
we’ve convinced ourselves
we’re going.

Sam Norman has been teaching high school for 16 years at Bacon Academy in Colchester, CT. Until now, most of what Sam has written has been shared only with family and a few friends, though he has been published in Bacon Academy’s literary journal, The Salmon River Review. Sam enjoys role-playing games, and for a while he was very active in the LARPING community (Live Action Role Playing). Most of Sam’s recent poetry focuses on a terrible tragedy. Sam’s son, Ben, just 20 years old, lost his life in a weather-related traffic accident on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2018. Sam lives in Coventry, Connecticut with his wife Teri, their children, Becca and Daniel, a bunch of chickens, and their beloved dogs, Cloudy and Ripple.

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