Of How I Bit Back

“Death doesn’t frighten me. It’s what comes after. [Besides, some of my best friends are dead, and they hunger for stories].” ~ Terry Pratchett [and me]


My world remains full
of what you left me—bones
on my altar, books and stones,
the calaveras that grinned on my handfasting
cake (you weren’t here for that)

I miss you…

There are new things
on my altar and living—hearts
from friends, a bird skull
whose flesh and feathers fly
to you (its grin and bone
stay with me)

I miss you…

Newest, on my altar, wild offerings
for you—peanuts and (not so shiny) metal gifts
from a blue jay, leaves and petals and lavender
and rosemary from a witch made of gentle fire,
a shot of spirits (I will never forget)

I miss you…

The world remains full of what you left me, but
there are new things on my altar and living—
life bit, bit, bit… chunks out of my chest, but
I’m fighting, fighting, fighting back…

next year, when The Veil thins
again, when Soul and Flesh get to glimpse
into each other’s mirrors, I’ll share new
stories, Little Brother, of how I bit back,
of how I won, of how I’ll always remember

I miss you…


the wee notes…
– last night, I spent a considerable amount of time cleaning the altar where I keep my Little Brother’s ashes, listening to his favorite music, speaking the tales of everything of importance (or trivial but humorous) that has happened to me this year. It’s how I’ve celebrated the life of my Dead for as long as I can remember, how I will add to their memory for a long as I breathe.


31 thoughts on “Of How I Bit Back”

  1. You show so much honor, so much love for your dear brother. I hope you danced, ate Dominican cake, and laughed with him in your dreams. Another wonderful piece that speaks volumes about the ones you love.

  2. I absolutely love your altar and your ritual for: “my Dead”. I think I’ll do something like this next year for my dearly departed kitties. I have a river stone carved with my cat Sabrina’s name on it, and I plan to have one done for little Phoebe too. But I’d like to do something more. Like this. I think the Day of the Dead customs are just so powerful and poignant. Now I’m wondering, are altars for deceased pets ever part of the Day of the Dead traditions?

    Your poem is so moving. The “I miss you… “s squeezed my heart. Thinking of you and your little brother. ♥ ♥ ♥

    • The first thing the not-so-Little Princess added to our All Hallows’ Eve altar was a picture of Spike, a Beta fish that swam away some time ago. She shared her favorite things about him–how he lost his mind every time she put a mirror in front of him and he would puff to twice his size in order to fight the enemy. The stories made us all laugh and remember good old Spike at his best. I can see you sharing tales of your kitties (of their coolest outfits and mischievous ways). It’s what keeps them alive in us. So, yes, we include our furry family in our traditions. They are family after all.

      Thank you for thinking of my little brother. Knowing him, he is probably bragging about it. 😀

  3. I remember every year that my brother is gone. All I have are childhood pics and a few adult ones. I have his memorial of what the sheriffs department did. Endless birthday cards he sent to me and my kids.
    What a journey we all go through when we lose someone close.

  4. A beautiful tribute. I wish I had such strength, to honor and remember without being reduced to tears and sinking into depression. I love your altar, and the way you face everything with such wisdom, strength, and glee.

    • My grandma has been gone for decades now. And every now again, something I see or do or remember makes me burst into tears. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t hurt for those we love and lost, but… embracing the memories helps us lessen that hurt, turn it into something that soothes the aching… and the rest.

  5. So deeply beautiful…thank you for sharing this sacred magic and love between you and your brother..such power and spirit shining and vibing from your words and poetry. Your altar is gorgeous, such a special time of year to honor those we love. I especially love and look forward to the adventures and wisdom you will share next year at this time!
    Much magic and love

    • I’m glad you love our sharing and will be back for more. My remembering of him keeps him alive in my heart. Sharing those memories with others (who will also remember) keep him alive everywhere. Thank you for that.

  6. I love the altar and have decided to make one for next year to honor my father and other loved departed ones.
    Your poem was beautiful and you have a lovely way with words.

  7. I am sorry for your loss. I am so touched by the alter you made for your brother. It’s a difficult time of the year for us as well. Wishing you peace.


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