Meaningless Tears – My Father’s Funeral

I cried…

Tears visible on my cheeks

Or so I imagined, afterwards

My attention was focused

Stiff upper lip, back straight, eyes front and center

Suit jacket crisp, shirt ironed, tie straight  

The role player, playing the role

Vaguely aware of the eyes boring through my back

Nearly-silent whispers from the whisperers 

Hidden behind open hymnals and widened hands

Necks craning, checking just to see

Just to see that it’s really me

This scenario repeated again and again

Here awhile then gone again

Assuming, judging; thoughtful questioning

So, I listened…

To the soliloquy of a robed clergyman

Arms raised, voice raised; earning his wage

Words of life, words of death

A tapestry of human life

Woven carefully into a floral scented coffin blanket

Fresh carnations, roses, and daisies 

More life sacrificed for the dead

Beauty, as if beauty could matter here

A facade of funerary theatrics

Diverting thoughts from the cold reality

Beneath the steel lid therein lies

Hands carefully folded 

Worn leather-bound book 

Permanently anchored in a stiffened cold clasp

Lips pursed, eyes forever closed

Stillness and the final journey

A spark extinguished 


And a time for grieving 

The infinite moments passing


Holding space while others flee

Eyes still fixed, aura unsettled

Swirling colors angrily jousting in darkened clouds

Daggers of red slicing through the somber air

Hurricanes of blues and greens crashing upon unseen reefs

An eclipse of midnight; a foundation of flames

Until at last, the moment of nearly-alone

The whisperers passed; negativity spirited away

Echoes of leather shoes on tile

Reminiscent of a sinking ship

Leaving the last to man the wheel

As the water crests the disappearing bridge

And so the wait languished uneasily

Thoughts consuming, looks downturned 

Oak pews and worn carpeting

Gentle reminder that here isn’t my destination 

Only another step on the journey

Breaking free; away from this place, this space

Separation, indeed, the final step

Hand sliding uneasily on the iron railing

The church sidewalk stretching out in front of me

Several feet or several miles

Junction left, junction right

Sunlight sparkling against the finely ground stone

Glowing like a walkway to heaven

Or an invitation to hell

Each, but a turn away

Yet the sight gives no pleasure

Nor gives pain

The numbing; an all-encompassing emotional consumption

A momentary distraction of sorts

If only to push down that which is rising

Or has overflown

Every step, a moment closer to relief

Black sedan, tinted glass

Closing the door tightly

Hidden momentarily inside

Brushing the tears away

As if they never even existed 


Author’s Note

This was inspired in part by one of the most powerful pieces of poetry I’ve read in some time.  It’s called “Old Man Bill,” by Vincent Moore, an amazing poet who also writes on this site.  His tale made me wonder about the after-effects of the death of an abusive father; moreover, how those left behind grieved or not.


R J Schwartz
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R J Schwartz

I write about everything and sometimes nothing at all. I'm fascinated by old things, rusty things, abandoned places, or anywhere that a secret might be unearthed. I'm passionate about history and many of my pieces are anchored in one concept of time or another. I've always been a writer, dating back to my youth, but the last decade has been a time of growth for me. I'm continually pushing the limitations of vocabulary, syntax, and descriptive phrasing.

5 thoughts on “Meaningless Tears – My Father’s Funeral

  • July 24, 2017 at 5:31 PM

    Very emotive and vivid imagery, Ralph. The loss of an abusive father leaves one with such a mixture of feelings and how people expect one to react, when the son is not sure himself what he is feeling – love? loss? sadness ? relief? This, too, is a powerful piece.

  • July 24, 2017 at 6:32 PM

    Ralph there are so many memories within every word, memories I shiver with, my hair on my neck stiffening in remembrance of every tear felt rolling down my cheek, a lad in turmoil, a father mean beyond mean, a hater of his family. One which he is responsible for bringing into this world. Hurt runs deep, all the feelings you expressed here I felt as I stood over his stiffened dead body laying in a hospital bed. His mouth still open in fear from what I could only imagine the grim reaper hurrying his soul to hell. I would have had great difficulty standing in a chapel as you did. It must have been one of the toughest visits you ever had to make. Why are children put through this? why, why, why. all we ever wanted to be was loved by our fathers. Beautifully but sadly penned my friend.

    • July 24, 2017 at 7:53 PM

      I skipped past your Author’s note at first glance, coming back to see you’ve made reference to “Old Man Bill” thank you Ralph for the mention. Old Man Bill has lived in my shadows for most of my life, then out of the blue a Muse appeared and forced me to pen all my hurt and pain from a life ill gained through the abuse of this old man Bill. I’ve never stopped writing.

  • July 24, 2017 at 11:36 PM

    Great work Ralph, and powerfully penned in consideration of abuse in families and its horrendous impact on so many lives. Sad and evocative and profoundly felt. Cheers!

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