By Sally Bliumis-Dunn:


Like a rain I feel but cannot see,
the names of the dead, falling.
Silences I hear between
first names, middle, last

are slivers of empty air between
lines of rain. I want
to be in these tiny silences
that cannot hold their deaths

but join them to all silence ––
rests in a piece of music,

the quiet beneath a rock,
the feather on a crow,
beak closed, wings
perfectly still.


I was reading the names,
carved in the black marble
as rows that rose
like a strange city’s skyline.

The columns of their names,
tall, skeletal
buildings with no walls,

rows of letters standing
like scaffolding in the stony

night of the black marble.

I walked along the path;
the grayish-white of my body

floated beside me ––
reflected on the wall,
sliding over their names
like a veil or ghost.

The wall grew taller,
burying me, it seemed,
in the bright noontime air.

I could feel the joining:
the alive and
the not alive.

Today’s poems were previously published in Talking Underwater (Wind Publications, 2007) and appear here with permission from the poet.

Sally Bliumis-Dunn’s poems have appeared in The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-day series, Bellevue Literary Review, From the Fishouse, The Paris Review, PBS NewsHour, PLUME, Poetry London, the NYT,, and The Writer’s Almanac, among others. In 2002, she was a finalist for the Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize. Her two books, Talking Underwater and Second Skin, were published by Wind Publications in 2007 and 2009, respectively.

Editor’s Note: Poetic meditations on death are an ancient art. In today’s pieces Sally Bliumis-Dunn contemplates the micro and the macro, “the dead” representing lost individuals and the masses alike. Her poems mirror the Vietnam Memorial of which she writes, etching into the lyrical landscape an act of remembrance and mourning. These poems are beautiful, heartbreaking, and reflect the longing of those left behind: “I want / to be in these tiny silences / that cannot hold their deaths.”

Want more from Sally Bliumis-Dunn?
Academy of American Poets
Buy Talking Underwater from Barnes & Noble


  1. ‘~~~sliding over their names like a veil or a ghost~~~’ so many places invoked, so much sorrow : we’re way off-the-mark


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