David Reads “An April Funeral in Pennsylvania,” by Jerry Wemple

Another Annoying Aside:

Imagine my dismay when I found that tinkering with the dates of posts on WordPress invariably messes up outside links to them! I did not realize that some of those urls actually contained the publishing date (This one already appears not to. Yeah, I’m confused too.)! Ah well, fortunately the links do bring you to this blog, which then makes suggestions as to which post to click on. Usually the one in question is right up top. Whew.

So why was I tampering with post dates? Not to make it appear that I had met my daily deadlines, of course not! Ah hem, well, maybe a little. But more importantly it was an effort to make this year’s project easily searchable via the blog calendar at a later date. I guess I give up. The last five will all appear on the calendar here on the last couple of days of April, and maybe the first day of May. Feel free to click back to the post from this morning about the reasons for the delay.

Why I worry so much about meeting deadlines that I set myself I don’t know. I guess I’m just a tough boss. I don’t want to have to fire myself, you know?

So here is the post that should have been made on Friday, the 26th:

You Can See it From Here, WempleJerry Wemple is the Creative Writing Director at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania where I am an alumnus. He is the winner of the Noami Long Madgett Poetry Award,  The Word Journal Chapbook Prize, and a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowship. His poetry collections include You Can See it from Here and The Civil War in Baltimore. He is also the editor of Watershed, Journal of the Susquehanna, and co-editor of Common Wealth, Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania.

I had the honor or reading with Jerry at two locations in Harrisburg  on a long but exciting day back in October.  There are a lot many excellent poems I could have chosen to read, but having heard so many in his own voice, I wasn’t sure I could do them justice by comparison. So I picked one of my favorites ,which just so happens to fit nicely into the timing of National Poetry Month. You capture the mood of an April funeral here in Penn’s Woods, not only with image and scenery, but with what is said and all that is not said, between the lines, both of the poem and of what well-meaning mourners tend to say. If you are reading this, Jerry I hope you like my take on it. You had me in the very first two lines.


An April Funeral in Pennsylvania
 In memory of Clarence Rowe

These men only wear suits for two reasons.
No one is getting married today.

Outside, on the stone porch, we stand
Awkward and alone. A few of us smoke

Into the twilight. A woman wipes
Her eyes. A man cleans his glasses.

Inside you stand five feet
From the coffin: Thanks for

Coming. Nice to see you
To folks you might remember.

The Masons leave the room
At ten to nine. They return in white aprons.

Speak of the purity of the lambskin,
Brotherhood. He’s built well and

Will take refreshment in the temple,
One of them tells us as the others

File past, bend low, whisper
A shibboleth in the ear of the corpse.

In the morning, we go to the college.
I buy a book, a pair of shorts.

We linger. Rest against the hood
Of the car. A thin haze obscures

The spring sun and nascent landscape.
In the distance, a farmer plows his field.

The tractor’s steady sputter a reminder.
Pretty girls walk across new grass

As the mist of our voices drifts away
Then dissipates.

© Copyright 2000 by Jerry Wemple, from You Can See It from Here, Lotus Press

9 Comments Add yours

  1. slpmartin says:

    This one hit me hard…since my father was a Mason…the service description brought memories of his funeral and his favorite song by Boyz II Men
    “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-w6m-nhUcos ) Gotta go…tears.


    1. Ah, my friend. Thank you for sharing that. I am sorry for the reminder, but grateful you told me all this. Bless you, Charles.


  2. I say hooray for Jerry and hooray for your reading of him! lovely.


    1. Oh, thank you, dear! I appreciate that.


  3. Steven says:

    Hi David.
    Nice poem. I think I’ll revisit this collection, peel the cover back a bit further.
    Your wordpress problem, it’s likely because you have your permalink structure set to “day and time.” You could change the structure to “name,” but if you’ve already sent a bunch of links out into this world it’s probably best not to play with it.



    1. Yes, sometimes when we learn new things we learn them too late. 🙂 Ah well. So does that mean that changing the permalink structure changes all the previous post links too? Yikes. It does appear though that sometimes the permalink follows my title, and often I’ve edited it to do so in a certain way before I posted.

      Thank you so much, not just for the advice to this non-tech, but for the kind words. I look forward to your next visit.


  4. angryricky says:

    Life is in the breath.


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