Bill Arnott | Death of a boy, a father, a friend

Burial of a Boy in 1979

Black, dreamless sky
plummeting rain
twelve-year-old me
pulled from two a.m. sleep
dad at my bed. Sobbing
(but dad never cries)

My best friend killed
on our rural road, struck
by a driver, he slogged
through downpour, woke dad
confessed to spaniel slaughter
disappeared in deluge

Through dark sheets of wet
dad gathers the fur snapped lump
carries it/her home, digs a hole
with a shovel we use for worms

I console dad
and bury a child with Tammi’s corpse

I wonder who that boy might’ve been


Jump Start

When I learned you chose
to end your life, by leaping
from a fourth storey
balcony, all I could think was
you could’ve really hurt yourself
you rolled the dice
you’d hate a chair
deterioration, debilitation
I know scared you the most
seeing that man with Parkinson’s
gimp across the street, being
less than your whole self, the guy
perpetually in his thirties, forties
hell even on your fiftieth
jumpstarting from a piling
on a slalom ski while hens on shore
flapped wings and clucked
and you and I just chuckled
at a five foot jump from wood
on wood to water, which never
was a risk, not like one
from forty feet to concrete
what were you thinking, dad?


Auld Lang Syne

Hummingbird hovers
predawn, through frost
a blossom blooms
bluebills clump
in raptor eclipse
under stone-fruit sky
light, dark, auld lang syne
more hummingbirds and blossoms
as an oncologist tells Tom
three to six

— ​

Vancouver author, poet, songwriter Bill Arnott is the bestselling nonfiction author of Wonderful Magical Words and Dromomania. His poetry is in the League of Canadian Poets Heartwood and Paper Dart Press UK PLAY anthologies. Bill’s poems, reviews and articles also appear online.

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Photo credit: Ed Leszczynski for




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