The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Peter J. Curry

Goodbye, Miss New Jersey


It’s late February, and the birds are chirping
because the weather has been unseasonably warm
these past few days so they think it’s spring
and because they have no idea that Cara McCallum
died yesterday of head injuries sustained
last week when her car slid off an icy road
and crashed into a tree, she being only
twenty-four, born and raised in Arkansas
where she was valedictorian at her high school,
then off to Princeton University, then crowned
Miss New Jersey, then host of the nightly news
on SNJ Today which is where I first
happened upon her beauty, intelligence and kindness,
not necessarily in that order, and now she’s gone,
leaving behind her parents and a brother in Arkansas,
and a much-loved brown & white beagle mix in New Jersey.
Dogs appear to mourn the loss of an owner
for a month or two and then become their old
selves again. But I believe they mourn
for the rest of their lives, just like people do
when they lose a loved one. And just like people,
after the initial shock, they store the memory
someplace just below consciousness while they get
on with the things life calls us to. But every
now and then a familiar scent, a voice
once dear, comes drifting by and suddenly
you’re a puppy again, running to
a lovely blond woman’s outstretched arms.


Peter J. Curry

Reiko, Singing


Today on NHK World they are visiting
one of the villages that were devastated
by the tsunami that hit Japan in 2011.
And we see a mother and father
walking through what’s left of their
seven-year-old daughter Reiko’s school.
And the mother says that on the morning
of the tsunami, as her daughter was about
to leave for school, the birds were singing
unusually loud, and she said to her daughter,
“My, it sure is lively around here today.”
And as she says this, a bird starts singing outside,
which we can hear very well ourselves
because all the windows in the school are gone.
And the mother says, “That’s you, Reiko, isn’t it?
I know it’s you.”




PETER J. CURRY spent many years as an advertising copywriter/producer, with time out in the early 1970s for a stint as music director with a country music radio station in Philadelphia. He now works as a substitute teacher and plays banjo, guitar and harmonica in a country and bluegrass band.



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