Empire of dirt – poem for dVerse

That glorious ruined face

that voice

I cry each time

because it hurts me

deep in my chest

and the grief of knowing

that this was the song

that said goodbye

hurts more than you know

hurts more than I admit

and he brought himself

to this music

always always always

he gave us

something of himself

and then I remember, always


that you were the one who left

one bright day

with the sun before you

and you asked for water

and nobody could give you

just a sip of water 

for your poor dry mouth

just a taste of water

to drift away on

and you left it playing

in your room

and everyone you love

couldn’t save you

couldn’t keep you

and I wsh

you could have had

that one sip 

of cool water 

This song always makes me cry. I’m crying now. And it reminds me of a friend of ours who died too young. It’s for dVerse. 

18 thoughts on “Empire of dirt – poem for dVerse

  1. It’s amazing how a song can reach so deeply inside your soul and wrench it. Sometimes it takes a whole song and sometimes all it takes are the opening bars. Goodbye songs hurt the most. Your poem made me cry, Sarah, because it reminded me of the last time I saw my mum. Somebody at the home had brought her water but they left it on the windowsill.


  2. Wow, so we’ll done, Sarah. For me, when Cash sings, “…my sweetest friend…” that is what makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand. You effectively complement the song with your entire poem but especially with the build up to no one being able to give that water, and the resolution of your solo wish that ‘you’ could have just had one sip. Beautiful.


  3. Johnny Cash is a musical icon whose passing brings sorrow to so many. He left us the beautiful gift of his music and for that I am thankful. He is one of the greats of all time in his field.


  4. When my 44-year-old brother died suddenly back in ’08, I flew out to Portland to retrieve his effects. I retrieved his laptop and found on his iTunes that the morning of his fatal heart attack he had been listening to a Pat Matheny tune that had so enveloped my own grief many years before. We cried the same river yet never spoke of it to each other. This poem and the Cash song makes me so think of his apartment on a cold rainy spring morning two days after he died. Full of everything he was and him never again to be found. Empire of dirt indeed.


  5. Johnny Cash knew life in all its aspects, and this song encompasses the many leavetakings that we all face. If…that word hangs everywhere. And the image of water in your poem reflects that thirst that sometimes can’t ever be satisfied. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The repetition here is very powerful….the thirst so meaningful in a number of ways. Losing someone too young…..it’s what I just wrote about as well. It never leaves you….that kind of loss. You may not feel it as often…but it is always there, simmering….until a memory brings it to the fore. For me, a song….for you as well it seems.


  7. This is a powerful choice Sarah. I also love the original version done by Nine Inch Nails, but Cash brings such soul and originality to this it is improbable to think of it as a “cover.” I also find human resolve and power in this, the lines “I would keep myself, I would find a way.” have been an important nexus for me to try to express my life and become who I am. The small basic comforts are not small when you can’t have them, your poem ties us all in empathy, and unity, like Jane said, a leveler, very sad, very desperate.


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