Absences | Poem by Mark Vinz

Bill Holm was a Minnesota poet and essayist and a dear friend to many of us who live and write in flyover country. He is much missed. Mark Vinz has written this fine tribute to Bill.

Bill Holm was a Minnesota poet and essayist and a dear friend to many of us who live and write in flyover country. He is much missed. Mark Vinz has written this fine tribute to Bill.


“Even when you are not in a room,

you are in it, your voice everywhere.” –Bill Holm

The message that’s recorded on the phone

is unmistakably bad news, and then

another call tells us it’s one we love—

a sudden death while traveling, somehow

appropriate for one who always

seized life too completely to stand still.

A door slams shut, a wall has dropped away,

and once again I’m driven back to

empty pages, insufficient words,

to rooms he always filled on entering—

rooms lined with books, piano music, and

good friends who raise their glasses one last time.

And now, as all the lights are blinking off

in every prairie town we’ve ever loved,

when all the toasts are made and songs are sung,

when leaving is the only certainty,

a single voice keeps echoing, along

each dark, untraveled hallway of the heart.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2010 by Mark Vinz, whose most recent book of poems is The Work Is All, Red Dragonfly Press, 2010. Poem reprinted from the South Dakota Review, Vol. 48, no. 3, Fall 2010, by permission of Mark Vinz and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2012 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.


More in Life

If you could turn back time, would you?

If you could, would you take it all back? Every misunderstanding, cross… Continue reading

While focusing on athletic endurance, this book also relates to everyday life

You need a shave. It’s been awhile and, though you’ve been grooming… Continue reading

Explores the Civil Rights Movement with Congressman John Lewis | Pierce County READS

Congressman Lewis of Georgia is one of the key figures of the Civil Rights Movement and the only remaining speaker alive from the Big Six Leaders that organized the 1963 March on Washington.

We often believe bad things only happen to others

It could never happen to you. Other people have problems. They don’t… Continue reading

Buckley Kiwanis names Students of the Month

For January, students from White River High School, Glacier Middle School and Carbonado Historical School District were chosen.

Local students named to WSU honor roll

Students from Black Diamond to Sumner found themselves on WSU’s President’s Honor Roll.

It may take time to sink into but ‘How to Stop Time’ is worth the read

The big hand is on the “12.” And the little hand is,… Continue reading

Breakfast for the Birds coming Feb. 21

Celebrate the coming of spring with breakfast, fun hats and Ciscoe Morris.

With help from ‘The Grumpy Gardener,’ you can prepare for spring | The Bookworm

Normally, you’d never allow it. Holes in your yard? No way! Trenches… Continue reading

How to keep The Courier-Herald visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections, and you might see less news. Here’s how you can fix that.

A small act of kindness can make a big impact | SoHaPP

Join SoHaPP’s book group this February to discuss “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio. Don’t have the book? Check it out at the Enumclaw Library or visit The Sequel.