November 22, 1963 (Playground)


November 22, 1963 (Playground)

Our hair served both
as reins and manes
and we’d just learned how
to canter–one same leg rocking always
ahead of the other–and also
the word for it–

But we knew that late afternoon,
that late November, was not the time
to play–not that recess, which was not
at its right time,
for the president was dead, shot
in the head, the president young and beautiful
as any horse
to a child,
and we let our hair hang lank
upon our backs,
not knowing how else to weep.



A draft poem for today, the anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. The pic is from another poem, actually about Kennedy’s funeral, where a riderless horse was led down Pennsylvania Avenue.

I have revised this fairly significantly and a few times since first posting and since people commented.  It has a last stanza that went as follows, but I think it’s better, ending as above, with the hair.   I include this here just because it was part of the poem all day!  

what we’d practiced was
to sweep the air away, to toss our heads,
to neigh,
but the golden fall of that
fall sun was not
a time to run, our president gone,
and all so young.


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11 Comments on “November 22, 1963 (Playground)”

  1. Jamie Dedes Says:

    Well done. It’s a day none of us remember. I was thinking earlier about how each decade seems to have something – usually traumatic – that is shared and marks the decade for all of us in recall.

    Hope you and yours are well, k, in spite of all the bad news. Wishing you every blessing on gratitude day.

    Warmest regards,

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thank you so much, Jamie. And hopefully we can feel gratitude every day.

      I edited the poem significantly just now (5:30 am) and wrote it latish last night–so not sure I’ve made it better. Will come back and check.

      Thanks also for all you do with the Bardo Group.

  2. Sherry Marr Says:

    I remember that day and, during the funeral cortege, how John-John broke our hearts with his brave three-year-old salute to this father. Beautifully written, the girls cantering, the young President “as beautiful as any horse”……

  3. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    This is as beautiful memorial poem as any I have read, personal and respectful.

  4. lynn__ Says:

    Excellent poetry! I was only 4 but remember my parents had a picture of the President hanging in our house. Our family visited 6th Floor Museum in Dallas a couple years ago…remembering an event that seemed to make time stand still.

  5. hedgewitch Says:

    There are some good lines in the last cut stanza, but I agree, the poem seems to have a lot more immediacy in its more compact form. So hard to express the feelings of that day, I’ve always found–you do an excellent job here, showing the end of innocence, the scope of the tragedy and the huge empty beginning of life’s confusion and inequity, and too often unavoidable evil.

  6. Mama Zen Says:

    This is really beautifully done, K. I think cutting the last stanza gives the piece a lot more wallop.

  7. What I loved about your poem was how, despite having been written in the past, it feels in the present. Thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  8. M Says:

    also my grandmother’s 50th birthday. what a marker. ~

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