Saturday, February 2, 2008



Feel Not Sorrow

Feel not sorrow on my behalf
As I slip into the past
For my greatest accomplishment
Is a legacy that will last

I’ve dedicated the bulk of my life
To the service of my neighbor
But I’ve been rewarded time and again
For the fruits of my labor

Long ago I decided to become
A member of the “brothers”
Not fully knowing at that time
They were unlike all others

Firefighters share a brotherhood
Only we can understand
Helping keep death and loss at bay
Though woefully undermanned

I’ve seen many of my peers step up
Above and beyond the call
Risk their lives for perfect strangers
Their backs against the wall

Even after their acts of heroism
Are acknowledged with medals
Still what remains as their bravest act
Has lifted them to this level

For merely signing up to do this job
Takes a special breed
It’s the willingness to risk so much
That’s their most heroic deed

It’s their bravery and dedication
That sets them apart
This is what makes them true heroes
Whether called upon or not

So when I leave this job ‘I’ll’ know
I’ve done the best I can
I won’t need anyone else to know
For they couldn’t understand

No one can do this work too long
It takes too much a toll
It’s very much a young man’s job
It slowly steals your soul

To toil longer in this vocation
Merely tempts fate
For body and spirit is broken down -
Has taken all it can take

So to walk away with no regrets
Is a gift unto itself
I can place my firefighting in the past
Place my tools upon the shelf

I’ll always look back on these days
With fondness and affection
I even may long to ‘do it again’
But I must choose a new direction

The same can be said when I die
Feel not sorrow for me
For I’ve lived a life as full as possible
Being all that I can be

When Saint Peter greets me at the gates
I’m sure he’ll let me in
For as a fireman I’ve proven myself
Time and time again

Copyright 2007 - Tom Kenney


All too often a firefighter’s day ends in death or suffering
He sees all too much of the worst aspect of everything
His pain is sometimes physical - but frequently emotional
Both types of hurt wear down his soul to merely functional

Constantly fighting to keep his head above the water line
It’s a never ending struggle to keep believing in the divine
The comforts that most of us rely on to keep us at peace
Remain just out of his reach as his experiences increase

His compassion has been shot – his faith has been strained
He wonders if he’ll ever find the ability to feel empathy again
And as his humanity slowly breathes its last dying breaths
He’s reminded of all of the fires – the injuries – the deaths

He leaves the firehouse on missions to ward off the danger
Placing himself in harms way to help protect another stranger
There’s no other method to protect and serve the community
Making a difference to someone in distress is a unique opportunity

All too often, it seems, there’s no thanks or appreciation
No simple acknowledgement of his tireless dedication
Not soothing words to take the edge off, or to soften
His rising frustration of how helpless he feels, all too often

Copyright 2007 - Tom Kenney

How Could You Know?

I don’t like the scent of Christmas trees
No matter what the season
I can’t stomach the holidays anymore
And yes, I have my reasons

You don’t understand the change in me
When the calendar nears December
Christmas has been the best time of year
For as long as you can remember

When your frustration shows I must think
How could you know
That my mind travels back in time
When it begins to snow

For how could you have ever known
Six firemen died in ‘99
Six kids and a mother in December 2000
All before you were mine

When we went away to recapture our love
To Vegas not long ago
Though we didn’t connect the way we wanted
How could you know

I know that you were disappointed with me
Over something that I said
How could you know the night before we left
I told parents their child was dead

We go to the mall with all the kids
Enjoying some family time
One of the boys runs into the elevator
And I nearly lose my mind

You can’t understand why I’m so upset
And take it out on him
How could you know what’s worrying me
If I don’t fill you in

I couldn’t bring myself to tell you before
And I can’t do it now
A ten year old boy crushed in the doors
Of a freight elevator somehow

All these pictures float around in my head
I begin to think I’m crazy
The only thing that heads off the insanity
Is the fact they remain hazy

Then something I see triggers the memory
It becomes crystal clear
It brings me to depths you can’t imagine
And fills my heart with fear

When this depression gets the best of me
And I begin to let it show
You can’t understand why I turn so cold
But then, how could you know

Copyright 2007 - Tom Kenney

Uncertainty’s My Enemy

I’m too old for this
And I know it
I’m getting scared
And I show it

Each time I respond
I can sense it
Growing trepidation
Can’t defense it

Timidity or fear
No place for it
As they creep in
I must face it

Uncertainty’s my enemy
Must get rid of it
Never before
Have I hid from it

Once taken for granted
Now I doubt it
Confidence and bravery
Can’t do without it

Looking for a way
I can reverse it
Must be immediate
Can’t rehearse it

Without these traits
I’m no good at it
There’s no way
I could do it

Put up or get out
That’s the reality of it
I just can’t accept
The finality of it

Tom Kenney - 2007

Fireman's Blues

It started when I was a young boy
Such a long, long time ago
Just wanting to be a fireman
Not knowing what I now know

It all seemed so straightforward
Courageous and exciting
Not knowing in my innocence
What exactly I'd be fighting

I thought I'd be fighting fire
Fighting sickness, fighting death
Helping those who were in danger
Down to their last breath

I just didn't realize...
I couldn't visualize...
What a toll all this would take
I guess I had fantasized...
And I had idealized...
What a difference I could make

But soon I was faced with reality
We lose some battles too
We can never save everyone
No matter what we do

I've stared into the dark abyss
Of death too many times
Each time someone's soul is lost
I lose a part of mine

This journey's been a trek through hell
Time and time again
But it's also been my salvation
And I'd do it all again

I just didn't realize...
I couldn't visualize...
What a toll all this would take
I guess I had fantasized...
And I had idealized...
What a difference I could make

Tom Kenney - 2006

Glory Fades

Riding the trucks, sirens screaming
All eyes upon you, as the strobe lights are gleaming
You think that you’re special, and can’t help beaming
But the glory soon fades…

You get off the truck, and people are gawking
They watch your every movement, and you hear them talking
They’re singing your praises, as the radio’s squawking
But the glory soon fades…

You move toward the fire, and people are yelling
You quickly take command, and you begin telling
The people to stay calm, as their tears begin welling
But the glory soon fades…

They look at you with hope, because you’ll be saving
The loved one they tell you is in there, by their ranting and raving
And you summon your comrades, with your frantic waving
But the glory soon fades…

You mount an attack, and you’re all striving
That the victim still trapped, will walk away surviving
As his family celebrates, cheering and high five-ing
But the glory soon fades…

You try to push forward, but you take a beating
The heat and the smoke, force you into retreating
That hopefulness you felt, was ever so fleeting
And the glory soon fades…

This battle you’re waging, and hoped you’d be winning
Has taken its toll, and now you’re beginning
To see that your hopes, of a rescue are dimming
Yes, the glory soon fades…

New firemen imagine themselves, helping and aiding
But death is the one thing, you can’t keep evading
With each new defeat, the glory’s soon fading

Glory fades...

Copyright 2004 - Tom Kenney