Poem: Capturing the Dead

Capturing the Dead

You were the last one in before the boarded the place up,
the last one to see, to capture the abandonment
of twenty plus years.

You remember the day well. It was fate, A whisper.
You had passed it for a decade or more,
seeing it in the distance as you sped down the highway
to other places more pressing.

But this day, the whisper came. “Now. Today”
and you pulled over. Walked the half mile
through massive parking lots cracked
with grass growing in lines and squares.

No need to climb the fence, it had long since
been pulled down by time and vandals.
Even from a distance, you could see the graffiti
and walls of broken glass.

It swallowed your afternoon. You could hear
the voices of the race goers, the calls of barkers,
the lines at the betting booths. But only for a second,

After that, there was only the wind
and the sound of broken glass,
still falling after all this time. Punctuation points.

You took pictures. It is what you do
in places like this. Empty, broken, abandoned places.
You take pictures. Death images
like some macabre Victorian photographer,

capturing the dead.

And then you left. Back through the empty lots.
You never made your destination. Maybe this was it,
Two days later you read how it was sold. Carpenters arrived,
boarding it up, leaving you the final thief.
Melancholy and Victorious both.
Nothing is ever simple.
Least of all, you.

About this poem

The story about the racetrack is true. And the lack of simplicity is true. There really was a school of photography in the Victorian age that took pictures of the dead, posed as if they were still alive, as a remembrance. The fad lasted about two decades.

We all should listen to that voice that says. “Now.” more often. There’s generally a reason.


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