On Sunday, June 30th, a crowd of family, friends and admirers will gather together at Harleigh Cemetery in Camden, NJ, to mark the 24th anniversary of Nick Virgilio’s death. A pioneer of haiku poetry, Virgilio wrote about family and those he loved, nature, and life on the streets of his hometown. He touched thousands of people with his poetry, both in South Jersey and around the world.

As a tribute to Nick Virgilio, I’d like to share with you some previously unpublished poems that I received from X.J.Kennedy, a fine poet who was an admirer of Virgilio’s work. The two exchanged letters for a number of years and Mr. Kennedy was kind enough to send me copies. I’ll share some other poems at the ceremony on Sunday — but it’s always a treat for me to discover new Virgilio poems:

Nick Virgilio granite podium at his grave in Harleigh Cemetery, Camden, N.J.

Nick Virgilio granite podium

darkened by the drought,
halfway up the elephant’s trunk:
river watermark

my dead brother . . .
hearing his whistle
in the cardinal’s

the old covered bridge
swept away by the flash flood:
pigeon nest adrift

By all means, please feel free to join the commemoration at 2 p.m. at Virgilio’s grave overlooking a placid pond and a stone’s throw from Walt Whitman’s tomb in the cemetery. Folks will read his poetry as well as their own, reminisce about Virgilio and have some birthday cake to celebrate his life and gift.


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