Guest Commentary


Editor’s Note: Payson resident Nancy Lee attended the memorial in Prescott for the 19 firefighters killed by the Yarnell Hill Fire. We offer this in memory of Andrew Ashcraft, 29; Kevin Woyjeck, 21; Anthony Rose, 23; Eric Marsh, 43; Christopher MacKenzie, 30; Robert Caldwell, 23; Clayton Whitted, 28; Scott Norris, 28; Dustin Deford, 24; Sean Misner, 26; Garret Zuppiger, 27; Travis Carter, 31; Grant McKee, 21; Travis Turbyfill, 27; Jesse Steed, 36; Wade Parker, 22; Joe Thurston, 32; William Warneke, 25; and John Percin, 24.

19 White Hearses

Nancy Lee

I remember JFK

the day he died

was killed


all while algebra

filled my brain

high school

how long ago was that

Now I sit in a truck

shotgun seat

foot propped on the dashboard


four and a half hours


for a procession

A slurry plane soars overhead

back and forth

circles and swoops

like a lost dove

Someone yells

here they come

left hand grabs my flag

right opens the door

feet at the curb

I stand at attention

I raise my flag

in silence

the wind unfurls it

it waves

along with a hundred others

that line the road

my fingers hold

the top corner

it is upside down

in instinct

two fingers rise up

an old peace sign

Then to my left

they pass

one by one

19 white hearses

pure white

each one carries a body

each has a printed name

in the side window

for all to read

like a lost piece of mail

with no address

The procession moves slow

too fast for the heavy heart

19 hot shots


in a nano second

The wind blows

the 9th or 10th

passes me

Where is JFK?


perhaps a tree

in the redwood forest

Families and friends


they ache

Jackie K, Jackie O

she ached

reunited in God now

for eternity mmm?

19 purple streamers

release from the slurry plane

drifting and floating to earth

a nano second

four and a half hours

and eternity.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.