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Forgotten Places

Updated on November 11, 2013

By: Wayne Brown

A rusting steel arch bearing the name sits on columns of stone

Twisted old gate swings in the breeze, the latch long since gone

Weeds grow high; the world creeps in; roots run ever so deep

Yet this is such a sacred place; a haven where loved ones sleep

Headstones green with mold; surfaces eroded by years of rain

Some are broken and twisted; damaged by vandals and strain

But still marking these precious tombs as the final resting spot

Of some who lived, laughed, and cried yet with time we forgot

Once loved ones came through that gate to gaze upon the grave

Once a church sat on that hill calling out for souls to save

Time passed; people died; the landscape of life in a slow shift

And now an old cemetery begins to drop into that forgotten rift

One can only wonder if these forgotten souls are crying out

Do their tears stain the ground where the weeds grow about?

Is this what is left as the statement of our great human pride

Turning our backs on the graves of those gone to the other side?

Though the weeds may grow and tangled vines hide our shame

The guilt our eyes register on our souls remembers every name

For our time too will come all so soon; the price of being mortal

Thus we wonder if our final rest will be in some forgotten portal

Those passed on here deserve more; stranger, family, or friend

One to turn away the weeds and stand the markers once again

For it is the pride shown in remembering those buried on this land

Signifying the glory of this world and our love for our fellow man

┬ęCopyright WBrown2012. All Rights Reserved.

6 July 2012


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    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      4 years ago from Texas

      @Phyllis Doyle...Several years back, I got quite interested in genealogy. My dad was living then and when I would go home, he and I would go on a trek of some of the old cemeteries where his relatives were placed. At first I was only interested in recording dates and collecting information, but the more I saw of these forgotten cemeteries in communities which for one reason or other had died out, my heart grew heavy with these thoughts and I finally put them to paper. I think the truth can be harsh for us at times but this is one area in which we need to see the truth and confront it. That fact comes home to me now especially when I go back home and stand by my dad's grave. Thanks very much for the great comments! ~ WB

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Wayne, I do not know how I ever missed this one. It touches my heart deeply and puts me in touch with the loved ones who once walked physically in my life, now in spirit. I thank you so much for writing this -- I know it was long ago you wrote it, yet it is timeless and will linger in my heart and memory. Thank you again.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      6 years ago from Texas

      @Dim Flaxenwick....And thank you ever so, sooo, much for your good words and comment. So glad you liked it. WB

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 

      6 years ago from Great Britain

      So, sooo, beautifully written.

      Amazing, Wayne. Thank you.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 

      6 years ago

      Can one say 'such is life' in an instance such as this? (lol..sorry..)

      In reality Wayne - this brought tears to my eyes and made me feel my own mortality. living thoughtfully and with purpose while alive is the key to...resting in peace..

      It's the only thing we can control to some degree!

      Beautiful Wayne!

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      6 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Wayne, this is absolutely beautiful.. it made me cry.. it made me think of my family. we used to be a close family and now that my mom is gone we have all scattered. and you are right the young ones do not seem to care .. the bond is not there anymore. I love this poem excellent job.



    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      6 years ago from Texas

      @Gypsy Rose Lee...In geneaology days, I witnessed the gap between what the older generations had to offer us and the lack of interest on the part of the younger ones. Little do they know that someday that information will seem quite valuable to them. I hope that attitude does not carry over to the cemeteries as well. Thanks much! WB

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      6 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Wayne for this one all three. Voted up, awesome and beautiful. Hauntingly lovely. Old cemeteries are sacred places and whenever we visit one we always try to tidy something up. Passing this on.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      6 years ago from Texas

      @WillStarr....Thanks for the heads it and answered you back. I will have to send you an email that I look at more frequently. WB

    • WillStarr profile image


      6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      BTW, I sent you an e-mail.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      6 years ago from Texas

      @Will Starr...I went through the same thought process about five years back and did a lot of research on the web on both sides of my family. I put a lot together and when I hit brick walls, I just worked on something else. I became a genealogy junkie. I was hooked so back that I started looking up other folks families to feed my habit. Eventually all that work ended up in some files that were corrupted and I was only left with the memories...but it might have saved my soul from an eternity of genealogy. Just Google the names and things will start happening for you. Thanks Will! WB

    • WillStarr profile image


      6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I recently viewed online pictures on my grandparents' gravestones and suddenly realized that I know almost nothing about the lives of those whose lives gave me life through my father and mother.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      6 years ago from Texas

      @suziecat7...I know a few people that never went back to the cemetery after their loved ones passed. In a way, I can understand that but I cannot see letting it grow up in weeds. Like you, I hope those who are there have moved on in spirit and are in a better place but whereever they are, they must be lookind down on those forgotten places wondering why? Thanks so much, Suzie...great to see you about! WB

    • suziecat7 profile image


      6 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I find it sad from a historical aspect as well. But I like to think those buried there are not shedding tears for the neglect but rather have moved on to greener pastures where their memories and experiences are celebrated. Very beautiful poem, Wayne. I'm glad I stopped by.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      6 years ago from Texas

      @drbj...Thanks so much, Doc. I was into genealogy heavily a few years back and became much more aware of how many of these cemeteries are falling into disrepair with no one left to care for them. WB

      @breakfastpop...There's one on or near every corner, Poppy. I am afraid the neglected cemetery might become the new image of the ugly American. Thanks much! WB

      @Amy Becherer...My heart goes out to you, Amy. We lost our 8 year old Shih Tzu ("Lexi") about four years ago. She was damaged internally by the trachea tubes used in the teeth cleaning process and died of internal bleeding. We almost died with her because of our broken hearts. Neither my wife or I have ever recovered fully from it. Her ashes sit in a special place in our house today surrounded by some of her toys and the cards of regret that we received. After a while we had to get another Shih Tzu (my wife cried everyday until we did that). We named "Callie" and six months later, a friend gave us a male Yorkie that we labeled "Cash Money". They are the best of friends and keep each other company but I know one day in the future, our hearts will bear the saddness of their passing too. One of my closest friends from childhood is a funeral director back home having taken over the family business as the second generation and now followed by his son at the helm for the third generation. He has had offers to sell over the years but his family has stuck with it because he knows there is a strong element of trrust in his family and their desire to handle the task properly. There is nothing like trust in those moments of sadness. WB

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 

      6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Beautiful, sad, truthful words, Wayne, that show a shameful lack of respect. I was horrified to hear that a local funeral director, paid to treat the bodies of loved ones with care and respect, here in St. Louis, was discovered to have left the deceased abandoned in a wooded area behind the crematorium. I can only imagine, if I allow myself, the unimaginable grief of those whose beloved was left in a state that obliterates even positive identification.

      I had to have my beloved Scottish Terrier euthanized recently as he was suffering with bladder cancer. The vet staff promised me that they would take good care of my sweet MacGregor. Their words were comforting.

      My father, who was a WWII veteran wanted cremation with his ashes buried at Jefferson Barracks Cemetery in St. Louis. I cannot express how afraid I was at the thought of a stranger handling the process, but there are no options. When I hear news accounts of mistreatment of the deceased, it is frightening, enraging and incredibly sad. The same goes for vandalism within the final resting places. I recently saw another account of a young mother who lost her young daughter. She visited the cemetery everyday and found the monument gone recently. It turned out it was one of the utility companies that had taken it upon themselves to remove it. When the story hit the news, they quickly replaced the angel monument with an apology. Still, it should never have happened. It caused an already grieving mother more anguish.

      Thank you for a beautiful poem, Wayne, that speaks to the importance of closure, never losing sight of the value of every life and remembering and honoring those who have died.

    • breakfastpop profile image


      6 years ago

      Beautiful and so sad. We have a very old cemetery right in the heart of Freehold. Up beautiful and awesome.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      6 years ago from south Florida

      These old forgotten cemeteries are so sad to behold, Wayne. Your poetry is sad, too, but also beautiful. Thank you.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Back in the south where I grew up, one can find communities which disappeared with the worker moving from the farm to the city. Whatever was left behind was abandoned in that process too often...churches, cemeteries, etc. Luckily there are people in this world who still care for that stuff and they make efforts to try to save it but there is too much for one person to shoulder and still win. Thanks much. WB

    • Fennelseed profile image

      Annie Fenn 

      6 years ago from Australia

      So sad those forgotten sites, where rest those once loved. This is a beautifully painted reminder, a picture of those neglected places and the souls who dwell there looking out for remembrance and a little love. It takes little and shows so much in love and respect.

      My thanks for the reminder and my votes and sharing!!

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      6 years ago from Texas

      @billybuc....Thanks, Bill and thank you and your wife for noticing and caring enough to try. It becomes apparent, especially in family cemeteries, when the last generation has passed...there's no one left to care. WB

      @HLKeeley...What a shame to see something dating back to the Civil War to fall into ruin and just disappear. I have a cousin who keeps up the original small family cemetery of some of our earliest ancestors in the south. The cemetery is no longer on land that the family owns but the owners allowed her to fence around the handful of graves. She and her husband trim the grass and faithfully pull the is a labor of love for them. I thought of their efforts a lot in writing this poem. Thanks much! WB

      @fpherj48...You are so right! That was a very noble effort on the part of a few people to do that...and now those cemeteries exhibit a personal sense of pride of each person participating in that effort...and maybe changed a few hearts and minds along the way. Great story...thanks much. WB

      @writer20...You are probably right...any graves in the desert of southern Nevada were either the act of an unplanned funeral due to the rigors of the desert or an intent to bury a body where no one would discover it. Those "cemeteries" are the most difficult to maintain! LOL! Thanks much. WB

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 

      6 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Well of course there's nothing very old here in Southern Nevada but probably in N. Nevada. Your poem read beautifully.

      Voted up and awesome.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Wayne......we have a couple of very very old cemeteries near our little town. They'd gotten just like those you describe so eloquently in your poem.....and a few citizens got together and cut it back and cleaned it up and planted shrubs and flowers and left some flags where appropriate.

      I thought that was one the most incredibly caring gestures I've witnessed in years.....

      Your poem made me understand just how profound their actions were....It only take a little while and a bit of energy to make an enormous contribution!! We should tend to the resting places of those gone on... UP ++

    • HLKeeley profile image

      HL Keeley 

      6 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      There is an old forgotten cemetery between my mom's neighborhood and the neighboring neighborhood. The only way to get to it is to walk through one of the neighborhoods and through backyards. It is from the civil war era. It is so tragic seeing empty beer bottles and the desecration of a sacred place. It is already a landmark and protected by the town, but it is just hidden away.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My lovely bride and I visit old cemeteries often and clean up wherever we's the least we can do....excellent hub and message my friend. You write from the heart, shoot straight and earn my respect with each new posting.


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