Day of the Dead

By CBramkamp creative writing, Poetry, Writing Encouragement Comments Off on Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead.

I love Halloween when the veil between the living and the dead is the thinnest, when we celebrate the wild of the night and the encroaching dark with yelling, dancing and demanding candy. And I love Day of the Dead, when we remember our ancestors thus keeping them   alive and relevant.  There is nothing more they ask of us.

Who do you remember?  Who should be remembered?

To celebrate, this is a popular poem about the holiday and my own reaction to it.

Write up your own memories!

Day of the Dead, Zagreb, Crotia

Day of the Dead

(from Ammonia Sunrise – Finishing Line Press)


Licking sugar skeleton heads

How does a white girl

Enter this place?


We use to ride bikes on the wide asphalt paths

that served the local cemetery

Fine, as long as you’re careful


We read the names and the dates

Long Time Ago, that’s the first thing

1805 – 1873

The beginning and the end – in stone


Then later the cemetery

became a short cut

Watch your step

I counted the time between the dates

How old? How many days did this one have?

How did they die?

An accident?


so I already know the cemetery

I can come and set up the altar

And bring food, bring old friends

the pine needles are slippery


Over there, to the left is a new stone

with dates I remember.

this is my friend Bubbles

an apt nickname for a round cheerful woman


She collected glass paperweights

that I learned to touch very quietly

her stone says Elaine

apparently her real name

I bring her cookies

and a little sherry

For her tea


I passed by a new stone the other day

now it’s a favorite

It reads: Published

But Perished Anyway

to these writers I leave my incomplete manuscript

and green tea


My father has a stone

with dates I can’t forget

I leave photographs of his grandchildren

and a cup of yellow number 2 pencils

he put them behind his ear

My son did the same thing the other day


I will also bring a loaf of bread and a loaf of holiday Stolen

A dish of ice cream – Tin Roof Sundae

(he not only did not care about the cholesterol;

it wasn’t the ice cream that killed him)

And the books, Charlotte’s Web, The Polar Express

The bell because Dad believed in Santa


My father died years before

my grandmother

Something my mother still

doesn’t forgive.


On Grandmother’s grave

over there to the right

I leave a cup of hot coffee

and dessert  something elaborate

from the chef at the Club

Grandmother loved the sweets from the Club

I read Eloise at the Plaza to her

the last time I saw her.

My mother gave her mother a sip of coffee

through a straw

not too hot, don’t burn your lips

the last time she saw her


Grandmother passed away on Christmas Day

She didn’t believe in Santa.

So no bell for her

Perhaps we should leave a candy cane

or not –


My Great Aunt and paternal Grandma

are not buried together

even though they are sisters

My grandma had many children

My aunt had white carpet


My Grandma baked furiously all her life

indifferent to the effects of dense calories and high fat

Strawberry short cake

hand whipped cream

Triple layer prune cake

real butter


My Great Aunt baked low fat lemon squares

and meringue

steamed vegetables

she spent hours brooding over her health

in case she lived forever


Her husband, my uncle

Made a kid’s cocktail of seven-up and cranberry juice

we drank it using both hands to hold the glass

Not over the white carpet

stay in the kitchen

Both hands


For both of them I leave a pitcher of cosmopolitans

And some of those meringue cookies from

Trader Joes.


Should I make a list of my favorite foods?

So the boys know what to bring?

Will they remember the only single family tradition

was Take and Bake Pizza on Friday nights?


Bring the one with extra meat.

And a bottle of your father’s wine


It is so reasonable

To feed the dead


It should be just as reasonable


watch the fat percentage of total calories

no, watch the carbs

no, limit the sugars

don’t drink

stay out of the sun

exercise daily

fix the wobbly step ladder


To feed the living.

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