IowaScribe By IowaScribe, 20th Jun 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Poetry

A longer poem I wrote and read two summers ago, about an old friend.


A longer poem I wrote and read at an event two summers ago, about an old friend.

Click here to see more of my prose and poetry, at the Iowa Scribe Web site.



”Goodbye” was his favorite song.
You wouldn’t have guessed that to look at him
He was tall and lean and sixteen
And blonde and athletic
With rough hobbies like shooting arrows into old bean bag chairs
And breaking horses and hunting deer and drinking beer and
Climbing to the top of an oak tree
When he was just two.
Being two, he had not thought it through
And didn’t consider how once he got up, how would he get down?
And the entire Hazelton Iowa Volunteer Fire Department was summoned
To get him down from his makeshift perch
Atop that oak tree, which was older than anyone there
And three brave but slightly overweight volunteer firefighters fell
On their way up to that perch
And needed minor medical treatment.
But the fourth was younger and spry and tall and lean
And blonde and athletic and he climbed to the top with ease,
Tucked that two-year-old under his arm like a football
And climbed back down with one hand
All the while making that frightened and embarrassed two-year old
Giggle, which, in turn, kept his parents calm as they waited on the ground.

His favorite song was “Goodbye.”
It was one of those silly but catchy 80s ballads
That you heard over and over on the radio 25 years ago
Until you knew all the words
And then you heard it over and over again
Until you were sick of it
And then after a month you never heard it again.
The song said.
And it was a sweet and melodic tune
That appealed to that rough and lean 16-year-old kid
With the blonde hair and athletic build.
And maybe that said something about his heart
There was something soft in there.
Or maybe that said nothing at all
Maybe it was just his favorite song and that’s that
And he isn’t about to apologize for liking
Some stupid song.
Why should he?

It was his favorite song, ‘Goodbye.”
No need to explain why.
His big sister was my friend
The most beautiful girl in that school
25 years ago.
And we laughed and partied and did all the things
Classmates do together
And sometimes we talked about her little brother
Lean and 16
He spent the winter in the garage with his friend
They listened to that song over and over again
And the two of them were building a raft together
And they would test it in the spring
When the ice was gone
They would sail it down Otter Creek
Like Jim and Huck
Or maybe like pirates
It was a good-looking raft they had built
Out of old boards their dads had left in their yards
And they couldn’t wait until spring
They’d launch it upstream and float for miles
And feel the freedom of two men
On the open water.

“Goodbye” was their favorite song.
They couldn’t wait another week.
The raft was ready and it was spring
Even though it was still cold
They couldn’t wait.
They launched their raft and felt the freedom
Of two men.
And what happened then
No one knows.
Perhaps the current was faster than they expected
Or the water much colder.
Perhaps they couldn’t get the raft back ashore because
Thick ice still lined much of creek bank.
Perhaps they had wanted to go over the dam all along
They were young and lean
And rough and strong
So maybe they believed they could do it.

Or maybe they didn’t think it through
Like that two-year-old who climbed to the top
Of that old oak tree.
Only this time, there was no firefighter
To tuck them under his arm and
Make them giggle as he carried them
Like footballs to a mothers’ embrace
What actually happened, no one knows
Other than it is a fact that the raft
Went over the dam
With both of them still on it
Two free men
Like Jim and Huck
Or maybe like pirates
Over the dam, into the cold harsh
Uncompromising water below.
Two free men
Who never came back up.

And I can remember wanting to hug his big sister
Until she stopped crying
But I couldn’t
I hugged her as long as I could
And so did everyone else
But she never stopped crying
And I’m not sure she has, to this very day.

“Goodbye” was his favorite song.
He always made sure everyone knew that.
It was a cheesy 80s ballad
That for one month 25 years ago,
You heard so much it made you sick
And maybe that said something about his heart
There was something soft in there
No one knows that for sure
It was just his favorite song
And that was that.

“Goodbye” was his favorite song
And every March
For those few days when
The calendar says it’s spring
And the thermometer says it’s not
Those few days
When the sunshine somehow seems cold
For that little while
That soft short while
When the ice is almost gone
It’s my favorite song.
It’s my favorite song, too.


Death, Goodbye, Iowa, Iowascribe, Loss, Music, Poetry, Youth

Meet the author

author avatar IowaScribe
Iowa Scribe, is an established writer, editor, author, poet and playwright who is currently trying to pay the bills as a scribe in his home state of Iowa. See more of his work at

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author avatar Mariah
7th Jul 2013 (#)

That's lovely

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