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Grey Sparrow Journal and Press, as of January 31, 2018 will move to

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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In Memoriam


Philip Scott Rader passed away April 22, 2008.  He was a scholar and a gentleman. 




Declined Invitation



I stood to face the final station of the range where
pigeons made of clay are sailed into the air,
and I had broken all but one elusive pair so far,
and now the final discs flew straight at me,
from high house and from low.

I used the Browning side-by-side

as Matisse used his brush,
and with two gentle strokes I turned both discs to dust.
The man beside me shook his head and then my hand,
inviting me to join him on a hunt
for white-wing doves upon his Baja villa farm.
How do you tell a man who loves to hunt
that you no longer kill for fun?
The answer is you don’t.
You simply thank him and decline,
and so I did just that, but then remembered, trembling,
what caused this change in me.
My beloved Bassett bitch of twelve had died one night,
of stroke or failure of her heart.
I found her cooling form beside our backyard pool,
and spread a blanket over her
to hide her from a prying world
of wife and girl-child yet untouched by grief...
No use, I thought, to have them thrash all night.
At dawn I wrapped the precious form,
transporting her to where her dignity would be preserved,
and then returned to face the world,
to say the tragic words to those at home who did not know.
The air soon filled with wails and splashing tears.
My family stood bereft and bludgeoned by my words,
while I felt I had lost a child of my own blood.
I sat down in a chair beside the pool
to grieve and try to nap,
to leave the world, to find relief and briefly sleep,
and in awhile, I opened up my eyes, and saw a sight
that changed my hunting days for good.
A large dove stood upon the spot where I had placed
my precious friend, and there she stayed until I left to
sip some soup, returning soon to mourn alone.
My grief would not give succor to bereaved.
That mourning dove still stood upon the sacred spot.
I strode toward the dove to see
if she was injured in some way.
She did not fly, but walked in
circles ‘round the hallowed ground,
and then the strangest of the strange,
a message came to me
from somewhere in the misty afternoon,
a message clear and sweet.
It’s all right, friend, it is all right,
and now tell those I love who grieve.
How could I ever draw on flying dove again?
I never will, will never kill a friend who flies,
who used to bay
and cuddle next to me on winter nights.


                                                    -Philip Scott Rader


Reprinted by special permission of Rebecca Rader, Philip Scott Rader's daughter© 2010 Rebecca Rader

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