Wendell Tomlin lived and wrote poetry in a small cottage on the shore of a large lake in western North Carolina. He's deeply missed by his canine associate Molly, and his wife of 30 years, Pat.

Wendell's religious preferences included the Golden Rule.

He didn't watch much television or listen to much music. He said that sitting beside Lake Norman was more interesting.

Wendell always remained very hopeful about what he called 'most stuff'.

I miss him.


Photo © 2009 David Coyote
Photo © 2009 David Coyote

Poetry Selections
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How to Remember Loss

Slip gaily then into the darkest
night and do not tell us about your
latest plight.

Save one for the other sphere,
for the need of humor there is
too important and we remaining
cannot help you with the songs,

the dances, the imagined and
remembered romances at which
you hinted in the powder room,
my dear.

Each closet and each safe
enclosure holds its secrets
bonded in selected trust.

Selected trust.

Honest parlance has its
boundaries and even though
we smile at one another or
even touch our toes together
on those cold nights

we cannot lay claim to
jewel-boxes held aside for
another day to arrive in its
own time and measure.

Treasure so often lies buried
beneath all sorts of clandestinely
placed concealments. Thusly,
people keep their hearts intact.

Then a woman or a man slips
by us without a sigh and we
spend too much time trying
to find the map, the key, then
we realize that we are mistaken.

The path to death is clearly
marked. Why on earth would
we seek another?

Well, child I will tell you a story
so that you may go to sleep, and
soundly. You followed your trail
leaving most the sweet scent of
your breath behind.

Seeking you was easy.
Finding you was something that
will have to wait for the thaw
which always comes in Spring.

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Our Work

When God seems cruel we all must stand
so closely, one to one, that shoulders
touch another’s and hands below entwine.
It is our work that matters, else God will
not assign an angel to our efforts and we
will not prevail.

We will have lost another child and that
I will not bear. It is our job to hear the cries
that children issue. It is our task to listen
closely, all alert to what should be our own
sweet work of giving that embrace to
those who need a place in our newly made
abundant love, compassion and regard.

If not, where is our place?

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In Memoriam

You knew our names
and called them out as
clearly as a beloved's.

You summoned our
brightest beats from
their hiding spaces;
you held them up to view
with untrimmed delight.

We will build a fire
in the center of the night
in the middle of a river
that you not mistake us
standing alone one by one
yearning toward the sound
of your voice, gone now
but still wrapped around us,
proof against the chill.

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Solitude

When there is no other choice
one must remain alone and
eventually accommodate aloneness.

You look into the space where
your heart and soul used to be
and find it an empty place

somehow replaced by other
organs all piled up, all stops
pulled out so that the pipes play
a feathery chord in coda.

Were that it was another way
but solitude, when it comes as
the unwelcome guest at dinner
often stays the night on the sofa,
in the guest room or just sleeps
on the porch.

Until morning comes and you
have coffee with an absent presence,
then in the afternoon make late
lunches that nobody eats.

We wear our wedding rings
apart, we stop and look for
that the vacancy that was our
heart, we weep at first and then
cease searching.

There is no one but solitude
there.

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The Dock

I walked down to the dock
and wept into the water over
the rail and so restrained did
not dive into the reflected moon.

Comfort and breeze waited
for me just there, enough to cool
inflamed eyes and mottled red cheeks
which burned like hot irons even
after all these weeks, these months,
these days and hours.

Minutes passed and then Molly
and me forgot though she kept
looking up, at first I thought
at me but she was looking at the
stars, scanning them at a rate
I could not see nor appreciate.

Puppies live faster lives after all
and when the leaving comes they
regret only that they cannot
forestall the moment and take
care of us some instant more.

Surely, it is a reminder that we too,
deserve only an instant of time in this
beautiful revolvement and should
kiss those whom we will miss when
the moon rises and every other time
that we behold them.

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Wendell M. Tomlin, Jr. © 2009
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