The Shirt

by Buff Whitman-Bradley

Share this:
  • Email

I’m wearing one of your shirts Bill
The yellow and blue-green short-sleeved one
Perfect for a warm summer day like today
I suppose the dead don’t care about such things
Still I thought you might like to know

The day after you died Jane asked us
To come back to your place and help her
Sort through your belongings
To toss out what was useless
And take whatever we wanted

Besides this shirt we got your toaster and
Your clothes dryer and Jane gave me your watch
The appliances do their work without complaint
And the watch is a work of art
But it is the shirt I like the best

Some of our fellow humans will be inclined
To make a big deal out of this
To go on about how the cotton fibers are
Suffused with your sweet and generous spirit
To swear that you live on in your shirt

That kind of talk made you grind your teeth
While you were alive and probably would
Even now when you’re dead but don’t worry
I’m not about to rile your materialist bones
With sentimental jabber about the soul

What I like about the shirt are the glimpses
Of you that come as I am buttoning up
And the way people who see me walking
Down the street turn and say who is
That handsome man in that wonderful shirt

Buff Whitman-Bradley has published two books of poetry, b.eagle, poet and The Honey Philosophies. His poems have appeared in numerous print and online journals.  In addition to writing, he produces documentary videos and audios.  His interviews with American soldiers who have refused to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan can be heard at He lives with his wife in northern California.

Issue 12 contents