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Dead Parental Units


Each death a sonnet, every grief
fourteen lines. Not yours. I refuse
you this one thing. I sat next to you
in the hospital, your mouth open
on one side, your last breath escaped.
I connect you with no other dead
or myself with the other weeping sons.
I am only this son, holding his father’s
dead hand, watching his father’s dead
mouth. I will not write you sonnets.
Sonnets are boxes. Spaces for pain. Graves
to lie in. I have had enough of graves.
I save for myself this poem’s raw last line.


Another death, another sonnet. Every
grief fourteen fucking lines. Not yours.
I stood next to you in my big sister’s house
with my wife, your grandkids, my brothers
in law. Terrified, we watched you drown
at daybreak. Then they wheeled you out.
Yes, mothers die and sons are sad,
but I am not one of the many. I am one
of the few who will not write you sonnets.
I’m sorry. Maybe that would have given you…
what? Solace? Satisfaction? Sonnets are
boxes—I mean coffins. I bought you your
coffin. One coffin is enough. Enough.



Bill Yarrow is the author of Pointed Sentences (BlazeVOX,2012). He is a poetry editor
at THIS Literary Magazine. He lives in Illinois.