I keep looking at these trees
From this window, I can see
Them inside the cemetery
Each evening and now
They stand between me and the sky
I imagine weeping willows in the south

They remind me of old photographs
Depicting southern pastures
Especially when the evening sun
Is orange and it splays through the leaves from
One tomb to another
Last night I smelled gunpowder

Rightfully so, rightfully so
I’ve just learned of another loss days ago
A female’s daughter
Decades after her loss of a brother
There’s something about this city
The cemetery, weeping willows, and gunpowder

Entombed last night
On the 4th of July
Through the trees
I could see
The fireworks, the city was smoky
The cemetery was dark–hovered a mist
Created between gunpowder and humanity

Rightfully so, rightfully so
The nation’s capital, it’s as though
The weeping willows have been there as long as those
Confederate sympathetic tombs
And trapped between the two
The mist of souls lost to gunpowder

Oh say can you see the ghost
Luminous on the road between the tombs?
The bombs bring to light
The gun powdered creed


  1. Brittani Forman on July 13, 2021 at 6:23 PM

    Dear PJ
    I love this poem. I read it multiple times to really get into it. Nice job on the use of nature. You have a true talent for poetry. Keep working.

  2. Arya on July 21, 2021 at 2:53 PM

    Thank you for writing this beautiful, multi-dimensional piece. This poem stood out to me because it elicit very specific emotions that felt nostalgic yet painful; and the connections and contrasts it makes with the fireworks, gunpowder, cemetery, and how it all relates to you in the moment are clever and well thought out. Amazing writing, I hope you continue to put out more!

  3. MB on August 4, 2021 at 11:41 AM

    Hi PJ, I really felt like I could feel being in the south with this poem, your words totally transported me. I lived there for many years and can just feel the humidity and light through the trees, just like you wrote. Keep writing!

  4. Katie on August 16, 2021 at 9:55 AM

    The imagery in your poem is absolutely beautiful. I can really imagine the cemetery and graves bathed in evening sun and covered in gunpowder. I also love your description of the weeping willows — it was an excellent poetic choice to write about them. I hope that you continue to write poetry and create these lovely images.

  5. Nate on August 16, 2021 at 9:59 AM

    This is a powerful poem – I especially like how describe the 4th of July. I hope you continue to write!

  6. Kate on August 19, 2021 at 10:25 AM

    I love the imagery in this poem. I felt as if I was transported to the deep south right along with you, smelling gunpowder in the air and seeing the willows twist in the breeze. I hope you continue writing because this poem is beautiful.

  7. Adriana on August 19, 2021 at 10:37 AM

    I really liked how you tied in tombs, the trees, and gunpowder throughout your poem to create an image in my head of the scene before you. The imagery was crystal clear and helped set the tone for the rest of the poem. I especially like the line the begins with “oh say can you see,” which was used to uncover more of the hidden darkness when it’s usually the beginning to the national anthem.

  8. Amma on August 19, 2021 at 10:46 AM

    Hi PJ. The imagery on this is amazing. The writing is so complex– it reminds me of something I’d read in an English class. It makes me want to spend a while analyzing it. The themes of loss, while also referring back to a dark time in our nation’s history, and simultaneously addressing how parts of our society are yet to change, it reminds us there’s a long way to go. Thank you for sharing this.

  9. Mona Villesvik on September 20, 2021 at 3:22 PM


    I loved this poem, especially how you connected our nation’s violent and racist past with our modern, still-standing systems of oppression. It is something that is especially important to reflect upon on days/holidays such as the 4th of July.


  10. Sanjana on October 17, 2021 at 4:08 PM

    The imagery that you use in your poem is phenomenal. It is very powerful and the writing is fairly complex.

  11. emilylam99 on October 17, 2021 at 6:55 PM

    Wow, I love how descriptive this poem is. It’s as if I can picture what you’re attempting to convey to the audience with your lovely words. I can sense the mood and picture you want your readers to associate with your poem after reading it.

  12. Bhavin C Narotam on October 18, 2021 at 1:21 AM

    The imagery and flow of this poem is very nice. I love the use to both to amplify the feelings and imagination being used.

  13. Divyaa Matta on October 18, 2021 at 10:29 PM

    I enjoyed this poem. Your writing is very complex and the imagery is very clean. It is so important to remind ourselves of what people have gone through compared to today to really demonstrate that we have a long ways to go. I am glad you shared this.

  14. ken on November 5, 2021 at 5:14 PM

    This poem was so good and so easy to read! It was beautiful and very descriptive. Great use of words and imagery. Keep up the good work!!

  15. Mary on November 17, 2021 at 1:36 PM

    The imagery in this poem is so beautiful and the line “Oh say can you see the ghost” is really powerful.

  16. Andrew Lieberson on November 17, 2021 at 5:16 PM

    The imagery describing the cemetery and southern pastures is solid, and the parody of the star spangled banner’s lyrics really puts a strong finish to the poem.

  17. Flynn on December 3, 2021 at 1:19 PM

    PJ, your ability to tie in anecdotes into your poem about various parts of our nation’s history is very nice. From talking about Confederates to using the line “oh say can you see” which is a direct quote from the National Anthem, this poem is truly a look at all sides of our Nation’s history

  18. Francisco Salinas on December 12, 2021 at 7:33 PM

    Hi PJ. I am a student from a community-driven class. I thought your poem was very descriptive and powerful. I could see myself staring from the cell window, picturing a cemetery. You have a unique way of mixing the sense of smell and sight, as I could envision myself engulfed in the smells of gunpowder and old photographs of a bright orange sun, the gunpowder feeling throughout the entire poem. It is interesting how the talk of ghosts, graves, being entombed, the cemetery, etc. would all indicate a gray, lonely isolated place, but the juxtaposition of the color additions and emotions is what makes your poem special. I really like the recurring theme of gunpowder as well since it brings in the city as the main cause of this smoky appearance. Finally, I thought it was clever to include the “oh say” line at the end as an indicator of the 4th of July. I’d say you are very talented in having the reader engage in their senses. Please write more!

  19. Faith on December 12, 2021 at 9:09 PM

    Hi there! I am currently taking an online class that aims to freely engage with the community of writers from outside of university and corporal standards. I was very intrigued by your poem because of your use of imagery in nearly every line. There is so much to look for and unpack in this poem and it adds to the overall sort of “dark” mood or tone of the poem. I think that by having such vivid imagery in nearly every sentence can really draw a person into the writer’s place. Almost as if the reader is “walking” in the author’s shoes. I also think that the metaphors in the poem are used in a way that puts emphasis on the main message of each individual stanza. Each one of these messages is tied to the main overall message of the poem. Overall, the amount of attention given to each and every detail is superb!

  20. Maddie on January 10, 2022 at 10:50 PM

    I loved the imagery. I can tell that you put time and effort into every line you wrote. You found a very creative way to reflect on past violence which made it beautiful to read.

  21. Megan McTaggart on February 17, 2022 at 1:36 PM

    This poem is amazing. I felt like I could see the willows and feel the southern breeze on my skin. I could smell gunpowder. Amazing that you evoked all that. I really felt caught up in the world you created.

  22. Adrian on February 27, 2022 at 6:40 PM

    This piece is so beautiful. The imagery between the mist of ghosts and that of gunpowder creates this incredible interface between the people lost. This poem not only reaches back into a past of murder and death but also how it applies to hun violence today.

  23. PA on May 13, 2022 at 7:16 PM

    You make great use of visual language to create an image for the reader. I also think your tone and choice of language is also great, as it really put those images the reader has in their head into context. Great stuff. Keep on writing, my friend!

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