In Memory of Al Ross

Warm October morning, the clouds pastel
streaks over the hurtling freeway traffic.
So many comings and goings leading
up to that departure into what Al,
when I last talked with him, was calling
“the Great What’s Next.” I turn off I-94
onto Double-H, a narrow, well-
maintained county two-lane between walls
of unharvested corn, their stiff leaves fluttery
and gold in the mild breeze. En route to the care
facility, I’m getting teary reviewing
the good times, flashing like the corn leaves
in the sun of my inner eye. Our friendship
was jovial, collegial, susceptible
to light-hearted banter, but lately,
in the moment of his illness, descended
to deeper layers of feeling which had,
of course, been there all along, now standing
exposed like a gash of rock in a farmer’s
field. I’m thinking this as I drive the last
few miles into Augusta, where I’ll find
him awake or unconscious, still here or
gone, but in any case knowing I’ve come
more than miles or years on this journey,
and that we, all of us together, are
riding towards a greater, more perfect love.

Thomas R. Smith lives in River Falls, Wisconsin. His latest poetry collection is Medicine Year (Paris Morning Publications). He participated in the Big River Radio Wave Show hosted by Al Ross, and appeared many times on Al’s Spectrum West WPR program. He’ll miss his friend with the golden voice. For more by and about Thomas, find his author page at


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