advent journal: memorying


My dear friend David Gentiles died on December 18 nine years ago. I am still conscious of both his absence and his presence. Going through some old poems tonight I found this one that I wrote after he sent me a note to say he was listening to his John Denver records, a musical love we shared. That old poem heightens my awareness of what his life and legacy means to me.


it was a short note
an old friend wrote
all he said was
he was “vinlying”
John Denver records
that’s all, yet
the mere mention
of the melodies
sent me “memorying”
across layers of time
to long ago nights
when we played
and sang and talked
of poems, prayers
and promises
and things that
we believed in
I still know the chords
and the words
and the feelings
they have aged
right along with me,
as have the friends,
and I’m grateful
for them all



  1. Whew! Your poem unlocked my own memorying of playing “An Evening With John Denver” over and OVER again my freshman year in Penland Hall… and warm, grateful thoughts of David. Blessed Advent, Milton, to you and Ginger.

  2. Thanks, Milton. I’ve always loved listening and singing along to John Denver songs. And like your friend, gone too soon. Stirs up many memories.

  3. I didn’t even realize you two liked John Denver. He is right up there, at the top of my list, with James Taylor and Loggins & Messina. What a beautiful poem. You are right , the cords the words, the feelings, they all come back when you hear those good old songs. For years, when I was younger, I would occasionally take a walk in the woods with my guitar and my big John Denver book. Those moments brought me such peace and joy. I also have fond memories of snuggling up in my parents bed and watching the John Denver specials on TV. Thanks for bringing back some good memories. I still have that book and all of my John Denver records

  4. The chords! Typo! You know there are cords too, the lines that connect us all to the songs, and each other! Sounds like another song you wrote! Love you!

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