Names written in jet black once friends to others

unknown faces have died before them

some with high school pictures to cover

emaciated faces now canvassed by satin pillows.

Friends read and say how sad how bad

step in their polished shoes gray dresses

gray suits to lose themselves in a gray crowd

a cloud of mourners uncertain how it came to this.

Lovers once, warriors once, once railroad riveters,

waitresses hairdressers, nurses lost in a sea, now

gone to ether for sure a better place with no pain

as if pain was the whole of their lives.

It’s true you see, time gives us pain, gives us torture,

fragile hips, fragile existence living on a nickel

while youth dances at the barroom scene

drink a beer, drink a toast and don’t forget the casseroles.