when it comes to your door,
and you’re not ready at all to hear
the gurney roll, the intercom buzz,
see the whiteness, hear the tap, tap
tap, of feet walking down the hall,
and the cold scope on the chest
listening and monitoring for the unusual

are we always looking
for the unusual?
or the usual?
and are we finding it
under each grain of burning sand,
under each leaf curled upward
toward heaven, closed in on itself
with dew jewel cupped inside

are we finding it
in the clouds, in dreams?
are we finding it
in chocolate syrup and
banana peels?

when a lifespan knocks
when it strolls
and uncovers your
heart soft fears

when it is determined
the time for them
or him or her
or me
or you

when it comes and sweeps
the sweetness off the day

you then look for the usual
the laughter, the familiar eyes
and smile, and jokes
and the voice, and you
want to record it
so you don’t forget  the voice
you heard most days
for 18 years and know so
well, and remember
the hands that first held you,
knew you, fed you, clothed you,
and you can’t stop that feeling
in the pit of your stomach
but you know that we all
face it, that friends and neighbors
have been there too and we all
must grieve a loved one


we don’t know when
it will come
the unusual usual
to the common day

you don’t know when it will
come again
so you walk in dainty
steps down the street
waiting and knowing

we all must die

it is usual
when it happens
to you


Sharing a verse with d’Verse Open Link #16! Come join in. Hope to see you there.
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27 Responses to usual

  1. claudia says:

    i was wondering where this would go and love how it slowly unfolds wings and leaves us standing there at the end…with open space to think on..i was 17 when my dad died – before this both my grandparents…but then a young kid from church died – he slipped off a tree trunk pile…i was leading worship at his funeral – and the church was full with young people…he was 16..this was really hard..

    • waysidewordgarden says:

      oh, I’m so sorry Claudia, to hear about your losses at such a young age, your father (you were so young!), your grandparents, and that young 16 year old– so tragic that story. I can imagine how hard it was for you. You were strong and resilient… to lead worship after so many tragedies. So hard.

      This poem was inspired by an event this past week– my father had a heart issue and ended up with a stent in an artery that was 80% clogged. So it is with that scare that I wrote this poem… life is so fragile, we never know what a day will bring. I am here with my parents now, but I will have to leave tomorrow. 😦

  2. brian miller says:

    whew…reality in the face…when you get that news and each moment may be your last you see with new eyes and live in desperation for the usual…really an evocative piece…well written

    • waysidewordgarden says:

      Thank you Brian… this was written because of my father’s heart scare… it is hard to get that news… he is better, thankfully. I was writing this poem from the perspective of those of us who are left behind…how surprising it was for us to get the news… yet I also see how this poem can be read from the perspective of the person who is dying, whether it be me, or someone else who gets surprising news… how we don’t expect it to happen to us and how it changes us and how we live.

  3. hedgewitch says:

    So true. Your words stream down the paper as inexorable as death itself, but far more inviting. Old people have that look in their eyes because they think about this stuff all the time. You give it a lot of shape and a positive if ominous appraisal here.

    • waysidewordgarden says:

      You’re so right, about that look in old people’s eyes… I see that expression. Thank you for your generous comment.

  4. ayala says:

    Wise and true. Nicely penned !

  5. Oh, wow! This truly evoked that feeling in the pit of my stomach. I liked how you juxtaposed the clinical, nature, and the mundane to make us aware of the transience of it all.

  6. I think about this too much because I’ve not had a lot of loss in my life, but I know there will be a season for it. It’s so true that it’s usual until it happens to you. This is lovely.

    • waysidewordgarden says:

      I am like that too… I think about this for the very same reason. You are right, there will be a season. Thank you, Lori.

  7. Seek the Sun says:

    “when it comes and sweeps the sweetness off the day”….beautiful, bittersweet piece about the temporary nature of all our lives. Then we look for those usual faces and loved ones. I really enjoyed this.

  8. Ravenblack says:

    It’s usual and feels so strange to actually think about a day that one might be really gone. It’s all easy to say ‘oh we’ll all have to go some day’ but to actually think about it, there is a feeling of ill ease. Nice writing — causes one to have a sort of flashback as one follows the words, and that feeling of common things seemingly more vibrant as one grasps onto life and feel the slight anxiety in thinking about death. Thanks for your poem.

  9. wolfsrosebud says:

    speaking of common things in an uncommon way… nice

  10. This engulfed the reader in a stream of consciousness, of hope and fear, of awareness and denial, of ultimate acceptance. That’s life and time runs one way. No one leaves this world alive. So, as the boy scouts say, Be Prepared.

  11. Sheila Moore says:

    so many questions and the way you summed it up at the end is very thought provoking.

  12. C Rose says:

    the rapidness to this piece really carried me away in the moment. perfectly executed emotion and sense in this, lovely ~ Rose

  13. Oh, you brought me to think of things that I do not want to think.. no one does… and your words like …

    ‘when it comes and sweeps
    the sweetness off the day’

    … affirmation of things that are bound to happen. yes we all are going to die… infact we die every day… but then your words brought it out of the back of mind to the front … face to face…

    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Om Namah Shivaya
    At Twitter @VerseEveryDay

  14. waysidewordgarden says:

    Yes, it is true of us, and those around us… something we have to face at some time. Thank you for commenting, Shashi.

  15. Poets Rally says:



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