Ken Janzen died of lung cancer on January 18, 2008. He was my my brother-in-law. Kenny was a musician, a song writer, a singer, a painter, and made his living in web design. He was 37 years old when he died. At the beginning of February I walked to Kenny's grave at the Vineland cemetery. The walk was cold. damp and slushy, no headstone yet.
I Walked to Kenny's
I walked to Kenny's grave today...
Snowflakes fell down
Like little kisses from heaven.
Canada Geese honked far off,
In their flight to who knows where?
I shed a tear...
I couldn't locate the tree, Kenny,
Where your mom lay?
They all looked the same to me.
So many names along the way,
I touched the stones and brushed the snow.
Where are you, Kenny, where did you go?
I looked up as I went...
Snowflakes touched my face,
Like little kisses from Heaven sent.
A dog barked in the cold, cold, air.
A sad thought came...are you really there?
A truck changed gear on a nearby road...
Sound of a jet plane headed someplace
[warm I hope].
This death, this everything...so unfair!
These cemetery paths
Remind me of that old Beatles' song, "The long and Winding Road"...
Which one will lead me to your door?
Snow-limned branches hung above my head;
Old knots and scarred bark with moss.
A black squirrel scampering
Nimbly from branch to branch;
My soul mourned your recent loss.
Ah, here you are, Kenneth Janzen: 1970-2008.
A plastic marker, no gravestone yet,
Same lane as Oma and Opa Boldt,
Just a couple of doors down,
Is it comforting that you are neighbours?
Or don't those things matter anymore?
Birds chirp cheerily, a lonely dog barks once more...
Is there any sense to me being here?
Making footprints in the snow,
In my fear...and anger?
No more NHL cups, Kenny,
No more Coffee Crisps or chocolate pudding
[To make those horrible meds go down]
I hope you're eating a big fat juicy steak right now!
My face turns upward toward the sky.
I feel an angel has brushed me by.
Snowflakes and kisses
Sent from Heaven above,
Touched my face with tender love.
I created a similar poem to the Ball's Falls one above, "The Road Taken", in my 2018 novel, Duplicity. The poetic Sgt. Benton Wright gets up early during a camping trip and sits by a stream alone with a cup of coffee and looks at the sparkling water of the Mi'kmaq River. His companion, Chief Abenaki, is soundly asleep inside the tent. Benton starts scribbling the rest of his poem, while his mind drifts off, thinking about Tara Laroche, his fiancée.
Benton pulled out his pencil and pad and scribbled a few lines for the poem which was taking shape in the back of his mind. He had written the first stanza already. ‘"Some trail leads me...’" What unwritten stanzas could follow?
[excerpt Duplicity, p.178]
The River of Life
Some trail leads me
To a rushing riverside
Where time stands still
With nothing to hide
Where the naked soul
Melts into the moving stream
Giving you time,
Tiny waves sparkle in the sun
Like people so full of fun
They tumble and toss,
And teem and toil,
And run...oh, where
When life is done?
A wave, a sparkle is the sun,
The river –- the galaxy,
Our existence –- a miracle,
Our universe, just you and me!