You Can’t Take the Dead

Catholic Poetry Room

This week’s poem in the Catholic Poetry Room is by Rita A. Simmonds.                                                                                                                                                                                              

You Can’t Take the Dead
A Villanelle

Photos are memories awakened
with borders for colors that bleed.
The living can only be taken

positioned or snapped in creation
expanding wide angles undreamed.
Photos are memories awakened

recording a life in its making
framing the best that’s been seized.
The living can only be taken

through lenses in focus, not shaken
by movement that time guarantees.
Photos are memories awakened.

An image that fades unmistaken
moves out of the frame that we freeze.
The living can only be taken.

No camera can capture what’s vacant.
No flash can expose what’s deceased.
Photos are memories awakened.
The living can only be taken.


“You Can’t Take the Dead” was originally published in Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry 2019.

Rita A. Simmonds is a three-time winner of the Best Original Poetry category at the annual Catholic Press Association Awards, as well as a winner of numerous second- and third-place CPA awards. She has published three books of poetry.


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By Tim Bete

Tim Bete, ICL Poetry Curator To submit poetry to be considered for the Catholic Poetry Room, visit our submission guidelines page.

Tim Bete is Poetry Editor for and always searching for the best Catholic poetry from today's poets as well as those of the past.

Tim's poetry has appeared in Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry, The Asketerion, and the Poet and Contemplative Blog of the Discalced Carmelite Friars (Province of St. Therese). His first book of poetry is The Raw Stillness of Heaven, of which one reviewer wrote, “If you are Catholic and think that you do not like poetry, this book will change your mind.”

Tim is former director of the national writers' workshop at the University of Dayton—a Catholic, Marianist university. He's a member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCDS) and often trades poems with his oldest daughter, who is a Dominican Sister. He says she's the best writer in the family.

Tim's writing has also appeared in several editions of the Amazing Grace anthology series (Ascension Press), theChristian Science Monitor, Writer's Digest magazine, and numerous parenting magazines. His latest book is Wanderings of an Ordinary Pilgrim

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