On the Bottom shelf…

…I found his dog tags

in a yellowed folder

with old telegrams

addressed to Aunt Flo:

husband Rusty, dead

in Japan where he

had been posted

after serving

in the Korean War,

which was

after he had served

in Africa and Europe,

earning a bronze star

with oak leaf clusters

for heroism in

the mud and blood of a

Nazi ambush.


Just to show

that you never know,

he died of asphyxiation

with other GI’s in a


malfunctioning heater.

No mud or blood.


We still have photos of

Uncle Rusty and Aunt Flo

playing with us

three little boys

out on the bleak

Kansas prairie,

where the wind blows


where both are now

buried beneath

Memorial day flowers:

petals and memories

scattered by the inevitable

Kansas wind.


How can we bear to

live in this world?


Published by


I've been writing mostly poetry for many years and have gotten a number of works accepted in publications and anthologies. I'm most interested in communicating with poets for whom craft is a high priority. I enjoy finding and commenting on poetic gems in other people's work. For my own work, I welcome polite comments, whether positive or critical.

5 thoughts on “On the Bottom shelf…”

  1. Painful poem, just frought with the loss of life, the futility – “scattered” and blown in the wind – as well with the heaviness of it all, the actual wars in actual places with actual “mud and blood,” the heaviness especially emphasized as you read it. You have the perfect deep low voice and patient pacing for reading your poetry; I LOVE that you read and record it, and have it for us here! Thank you. You are absolutely right that poetry should be read aloud. Likewise, I read my own that way and punctuate (often unconventionally, as you know) accordingly. I had no idea we could post audio recordings here, what a brilliant poetic accompaniment. Can I, may I, try it, crediting you if so, of course? I am rather private though, will have to think if my little voice should be voiced here online, but what do you think, should I try?
    In any case, keep up with your poignant poetry and presentation; I am making my way through the reading and listening of each and every poem, and I feel privileged to be literally listening in on a life beautifully chronicled. With gratitude and amazement, ~ Peri


    1. Poperi,

      Your eloquent comments on three of my poems are so gracious. What you have written helps to make all of the work on the blog worthwhile. I appreciate the time you took to go through the poems and make the comments that you did. I am so encouraged.

      As for the audio files, it’s great to read that you like them. I’ve gotten only one other comment about them, so I wasn’t sure if they are effective. You know how we all hate to hear our recorded voices? Well, I’m not happy about mine, either, but I hope that using my own voice may make my poems more personal to my readers. Your generous response allows me to think that audio files are effective, at least for some.

      Since November when I began building my blog and reading lots of others, I was surprised that I found no one else using audio files. There may be some out there, but I haven’t yet seen (or heard) them.

      I would be honored to know that my blog encouraged you to post your own audio files. After reading some of your work today, I knew that I wanted to follow your blog. And so I look forward to hearing your works presented in your own voice!

      Thanks so much, Michael O’Brien (Sanberdooboy)

      On Wed, Jan 13, 2016 at 1:35 PM, arguments with my selves wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Michael, I have just been reading and listening to more of your poems after discovering that there were more (hurray!)in the archives than those I first found listed in the margin. In the middle of one new discovery, I’ve received your response. Thank you so much, so very much, for your kindness and encouragement! Wishing you peace and happiness, and poetry ~ Peri

        Liked by 1 person

  2. In my mind somehow the entire poem revolves around the image of your aunt and uncle playing with three little boys in a windy field. I think that is how we can bare to live in this world. Your last lines also immediately brought to mind the title of a Jack Gilbert poem and book, “The dance most of all”. Beautiful piece.

    Liked by 1 person

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