November hymnal (12)


November hymnal (12)

That day the house hit my brain with a piece
of its basement it was like I finally saw death’s

name. Like death was revealed as a real person,
someone you’d asked to see if the right size

shoes were in the back and who disappeared
and never came back out but now here he is

years later, he’s cradling this box in his arms
and he’s close enough so you realize he must

have an actual name, he’s not the devil or any
supernatural thing, he’s just the person who will

put on the shoes for you, you’d better sit down
for this, and when he leans down to fix the laces

there are more people behind him, an unending
line of all the people who’ve been helping you

toward your death, from before you were born
up to the last face you will see. I am on the

stairs, checking my head for blood. I’m going
to recline here for a bit, like a greek god, and figure

out what hit me. I look up the stairs at my family,
Down the stairs at my legs, sprayed there like graffiti.

At all the people in the world. The escalator of names
Drifting down. I have had those shoes forever.

15 thoughts on “November hymnal (12)

      1. Ellen Hawley


        I don’t read much poetry out loud to my partner–what she loves she loves but she doesn’t love much of it–but this one I did. And she was a knocked out by it as I was.

      2. Jeff Schwaner Post author

        Thank you! It is really a great thing when someone likes a poem enough to read it to someone they love. If you had saved that comment for tomorrow it would have made my tomorrow! Maybe I will read it again Friday morning…

  1. jessamayann

    Reading the hymnals again. I’m laying in my bed reading this one and I swear I just got a little dizzy reading this one. Feel like I hit my own head and see my own everyone I’ve ever known. Wild how you can do this.

  2. jessamayann

    Reblogged this on Jessamayann and commented:
    If you haven’t read Jeff Schwaner’s work you are actually missing out on what will become the poetry that people will still be reading after all if us are gone. I promise it. Go to his site and read all of the November hymnals. You will be hooked and you will read everything else, too. Besides a poet, he is a watchdog coach for USA… because he is a fantastic writer.


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