We Siblings Three

Attempt to add the hours we have shared:
One hundred thousand, maybe thousands more?
Our paths conjoined for several years before
We struck out on our own and even dared
Imagine we would chase our dreams beyond
The borders of our joyful, sheltered lives.
But now we live with husband and with wives
In separate towns and rarely correspond,
Or so it seems when measured and compared
To neighborhood crusades we daily swore
Would never end. But we would soon respond
To destiny. What from those days survives?
That we still share a special sibling bond
Though kept apart by long, infrequent drives.

first published in Nine Muses Poetry



Examples Made

Our lives are like a looking glass
Through which our children often see
Their futures through the veil of time
With more responsibility.
From us they gain the will to live:
Learn to endure through hardships met,
Find that it’s better to forgive
And how you can’t escape regret.
Our happiness is theirs to share.
Our struggles help define them too.
Our choices are examples made
Of what you should—and shouldn’t—do.
We fiercely hope they will succeed,
That we have given them our best,
And fondness taints their memories
Of times before they flew the nest.

first published in Westward Quarterly




The deepest wells of grief reside next door,
Just out of sight and in the back of mind,
Abstract enough that most observers find
The time to sigh but then do little more.
Those most involved can’t simply walk away.
Their lives have changed forever from now on—
Those who remain defined by who is gone,
Those gone defined by who is forced to stay.
They greet the ones who come to say goodbye
And smile when all they want to do is cry.
Their well of anguish never can run dry,
Replenished by the next in line to die.
When death strikes down a stranger’s soul, they care—
But empathy is more than they can bear.

first published in Snakeskin



Randal A. Burd, Jr. is an educator, freelance editor, writer, and poet. His freelance writing includes assignments on the paid writing team for Ancestry.com and multiple online blogs, newsletters, and publications. Randal received his Master’s Degree in English Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Missouri. He currently works on the site of a residential treatment facility for juveniles in rural Missouri. He lives in southeast Missouri with his wife and two children.

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17 Responses

  1. Peter Hartley

    Randal – I can’t pick the best out of these three. They are all excellent and well repay reading out loud. And they all read correctly at first attempt which for me is always a good sign. I can particularly identify with the third of these, my own grief still being raw nine months after a bereavement that I find only writing poetry can assuage.

  2. Russel Winick

    “Examples Made” beautifully captures what all good parents hope for. Thank you.

  3. Cynthia Erlandson

    These are all lovely, especially the last, with its acknowledgement that grief never ends, and that attempts to comfort the grieving are painful for both the comforter and the bereaved.

  4. Leo Zoutewelle

    Randal, I can’t find enough good things to say about all three poems. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Margaret Coats

    These are most intriguing lines from “Grief”:

    Those who remain, defined by who is gone,
    Those gone, defined by who is forced to stay.

    I’ve added two commas just to consider the effect. Without the first comma, those who remain were defined by those now gone, even before the separation. That can of course be the case for “those most involved.” The second line, either with the comma or without, definitely speaks of a new definition for the deceased. Good, thought-provoking work!

  6. C.B. Anderson

    What I like most about your poems is the great economy with which you manage your diction, the utter clarity with which you express your intended meaning, and the subtle ironies interwoven throughout the text of the poems. Very clean, and always with satisfying closure.

  7. Andrew Benson Brown

    Three marvelous heartfelt poems from your new collection!

    I must say that I am, for my part, eagerly awaiting the re-publication of your elementary school poem, “I Have a Hippoturtlephant.” Surely this piece of juvenilia must hold the genetic code to the nascent ‘Burd style?’

    • Randal Burd

      Hehe! The Shel Silverstein influence is quite obvious with that one. Probably my biggest influence as a 10-11 year-old poet. Of course most children poets could probably claim the influence of one Theodore Geisel, but middle school girls would not fawn over a writer who suggested the influence of Dr. Seuss, however brilliant he was at what he did. Tell your pre-teen peer group that you were influenced by a poet that wrote for Playboy, and you’re the real deal. Seriously though, if you want to get young children into reading poetry for pleasure, Silverstein is the way to go.

      • A.B. Brown

        I too was much taken with Silverstein as a youngster. I was always checking his books out from the library. Not only hilarious, but also deeply moving in works like ‘The Giving Tree.’ No doubt many will consider this heresy, but I think Silverstein is one of the best English-language poets of the late twentieth century. The interplay of the words and illustrations is pure genius. This is no doubt an “ignorant” opinion, but he is way better than those free verse wonks. I used to work in a youth residential facility, and on the acute pre-adolescent unit there was a tattered old copy of ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends.’ I would sometimes post up in the hall and read it to the kids at bedtime. Even as an adult, there’s a lot to appreciate. My favorite is probably this one:

        Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
        Listen to the DON’TS
        Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
        The IMPOSSIBLES, the WONT’S
        Listen to the NEVER HAVES
        Then listen close to me-
        Anything can happen, child,
        ANYTHING can be.

  8. David Watt

    These thought provoking poems amply fulfill the promise of their titles.
    I especially appreciated your perceptiveness in describing grief.


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