Will they know

Roselawn Cemetery

Roselawn Cemetery. Photo by Callen Harty.

When they dig up these bones

what will they find on the skeleton of my life?

Will they be able to read the hieroglyphics on my skull

and the petroglyphs of my soul

etched in the decaying calcium

before them?

Will they interpret the chips and nicks

and understand the life that once

filled what


Will they know the love that was harbored

in the cavity where my heart once resided?

Will they see the strength behind my chest,

the frailty of human beings and

the weakness of being human?

Will they know the passion of my bones?

Will they understand the complexity of the man

who inhabited the corpse beneath their shovels?

And will they understand in the end that their bodies, too,

are nothing more than dust and bones?

Will they know more than I was a man

and am now an empty shell?

Will they understand that they, too,

shall lie wrapped in a shroud

wrapped in the earth that bore them?

Will they know that this, too, is their home?

That love, anger, hate, curiosity, empathy,


falls into dust?

And will they know that the energy of all

love and hate and

all else

lingers long after the soul departs the body,

lying on the bosom of the earth above their bones?


When they dig up these bones

will they know that they are my bones;

that they are their own bones?

Will they read the writing left upon them?

Will they understand that mortality is in the bones

and that immortality is in the love and energy left behind?

When they dig up these bones

will they know? Will they know.

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on Amazon.com (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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