Dennis Herrell

Last Image

I don’t remember my last image of my father,

but I have conjured one up of him—

as probably not yet ten years old,

among the high hills of eastern Kentucky.

I see him in a shaded valley

standing on a patched-quilt of brown ground,

looking down on a pauper’s grave of his mother,

not too far away, another his pauper-buried father;

and another, and another, and another—

aunt and grandparents and younger sister—

all buried near where they lived and mined 

all their years in the Kentucky hills.

And died in their small houses from pneumonia

or tuberculosis or miner’s black lung disease,

leaving my surviving father-to-be alone, except

for the hand of a matron at the orphan’s home.


Dennis Herrell was a soldier, an English teacher, a sporting goods wholesaler, and a gift-card wholesaler. His writing life began in college, and continued off and on during his working years. He semi-retired in 1988, and started buying and selling antiques, and doing more writing and submitting. In year 2000, Dennis started seriously submitting his poetry, with more than 500 poems published in various U.S, Canadian, British, Austrian, and Australian magazines. And, since 2016, he has published seven books of poetry.