We keep passing unseen through little moments of other people’s lives.

– Robert M. Pirsig

New poem coming from me today. The poem and I are going to get a few hours of rest first.

Oraciones por los muertos.

Flores por los muertos. 

Flores por los muertos. 

Los muertos están cerca.

An Elegy for 9/11

In the twelve years since the attacks of September 11, 2001, I’ve often thought of trying to write a poem about the event and our collective connection with it. Our grief. Yesterday, the time finally felt right to make an attempt.

September Sky

Once each year we see
on television the flames
so far up but still
too near the ground,
all the papers flying
and the dust.

We see the upturned faces
cut with fear and disbelief.

How blue the September sky
was – still and bird-full –
until then.

We hear again their last
words, calm and sad, left
on voice-mail. Oh goodbye.
Remember that I loved you well.

Voices beat on down the years
like drums.

So we fall with them and the falling
takes the rest of our lives.



Kyle Kimberlin
September 11, 2013


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September Sky by Kyle Kimberlin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

On A Hill

Today was Easter and I hope it was happy for you. I had a good day. But on April 8 each year, our family remembers the passing of our beloved dog Stella.* It’s been 12 years, which is difficult to believe. Time has flown.

Here’s a flash fiction piece. It’s not about Stella, but about the furtive and fragmentary nature of memory. And there is a dog in it.

If you want to, you can listen to an audio reading of the piece.

On A Hill

There is no wind today, to stir the foxtails and fennel on the hill. There is just a muted fog, following a night of fog through a week of fog and rain. And a man standing on the hill, looking for the sunlight he believes is up there somewhere.

He loves the hill. When the wind is up, you might see three hawks, or five red-tailed hawks at once, standing in the sky as if hung on wires. Then one by one, they break and fall on field mice in the oat grass field below. The first time she let him hold her, they were here. And there where the trail goes through a stand of eucalyptus, their first kiss. They sat on a fallen log – close together – as the sun went down, and a great owl floated over, down the arroyo and away.

Or maybe it was not a woman but a dog. He grows confused. But yes, a young dog. They walked on this hill as the sun went down, into the ocean there, past that point of land. And the sun set with a lip of rose and a tongue of burnt orange.

He went with the dog another day – the sun high and bright – to where the trail falls between crags of volcanic rock to the pitch-soiled beach. The tide was out and the dog ran between the piles of drying kelp and back and forth to the ebbing foam, chasing a yellow ball he threw. No hawks then, but pelicans in their morning dives for food, lifting again heavy with fish.

Damn the fog. He can hear the oil crew boat come about and back through the swells to tie up at the pier. But he cannot see the belch of gray-black diesel exhaust from the stern, the men on deck pitching lines and tying up, and the scattering gulls.

That bright, clear day when the dog ran here, the boats came in just so, engines revving to control the approach. The dog lay down in the damp sand, afraid, ears flat against her head. He went and held her in his arms as blue herons floated over, wings still and silent, caught by light.

It’s hard to be of comfort in the face of dread, of nightfall, and looming grief. That summer he was young, and the woman was young. They left the hill and walked through the stand of trees in the falling dark, to the thicket of bamboo by the railroad. The world was dark and loud, with the tracks close by and a freight train passing, eighty cars or more.

He held her and worried how it all might end, as the world roared by too close. He counted the gaps between the boxcars defined by moonlight, by final twilight maybe. The number grew impossible until the last one passed, dragging the clatter and roar of it away beyond the hill.

Now he is alone in all this diffused, ambiguous light, with a dog’s collar in his pocket for comfort or for luck. And the sun – he thinks possibly – finally burning through.

Download On A Hill in PDF.

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On A Hill by Kyle Kimberlin
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution
-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

everywhere you look

there are reminders of her. This place is entirely steeped in her beautiful, joyful presence. In each room, places to rest or to play. Her toys are here and there, her beloved bed, and her stroller is parked by the front door. The stillness of that alone is terrible; I will spare you more than to imagine it empty.

Here, on a much better day …

Happy used her stroller often in the past year – and daily in the last month – because she was getting on in years. And there was heart trouble, kidney disease, an ulcer. Still, she was a dog who lived to ramble, to amble, to run and run. And to ride! Oh yes.

Hard to believe those two photos were taken over a year apart, and that in the second she was already in treatment for so many things. Still smiling, still Happy.

I know, I take too many pictures with the silly phone; only 1.3 megapixels and the exposure usually sucks. Here are a bunch of better ones.

I guess those who read this blog but don’t follow the blogroll link to Happy’s Trials may not know what’s been going on. That’s our dog’s blog, where she posted her final entry Wednesday 7/8, just hours before her gentle veterinarian came to send her ahead to the Rainbow Bridge.

Happy was diagnosed with “renal insufficiency,” meaning early kidney failure, in April. She got a few fluid treatments and seemed to do better until late May. Then we thought she had a stroke, because she was staggering and stumbling. That turned out to be a thyroid imbalance and she rallied again, until an ulcer was diagnosed in early June. Then followed a course of acupuncture, herbs, etc., with a holistic veterinarian.

Throughout June, Happy had ups and downs, challenges with energy and appetite, longer naps … but there were good days, you know? Here’s a little video of Happy running through the yard and around the deck, on June 20.

We thought she was doing pretty well until this last week, around the 4th of July. The ulcer seemed to have healed, her heart was beating strong. But she got more tired, lethargic, weak. So on Tuesday she went for lab work and x-rays. I prayed that it was just a little something with her heart, because in the past we’ve been able to adjust heart meds and make her feel good. But the news was very bad. Complete kidney failure. Nothing could be done. The vet said, “you wouldn’t be wrong to let her go,” and “she’s suffering.”

Well, when you hear that, you have to do what you have to do, right? I mean the difficult and devastating thing, the brave and loving, almost impossible thing.

Now it’s Friday and she’s been gone for two days, and the house has come unstuck from earth. It seems to rise and fall, adrift on a sea of her absence. The silence, without her barking at birds or for cookies, is infinite.

This is not a tribute for my friend; I’ll post one to my Web site when the time is ripe. Because with this sorrow there is a life so much to celebrate, and gratitude for a wonderful, enduring gift. Just thought you’d want to know the strange weather, now the wind has turned.

If you have a fuzzy little friend, remember: time flees.

She Loved

Lord, at the ending of my life

the sun which You have made

will shine. The road will rise to

meet me, and so Thy Kingdom

come. Please send this dog to

lead me, Lord, who stood

beside me long on windy

bluffs to guard against despair.

She loved to walk and in her years

she learned to let the binding

leash hang loose. And since she

always barked for love, would in

Thy songful Heaven sing so well.

© 2000, 2005 by Kyle Kimberlin