Shaun was an accomplished musician, and singer. He started singing and playing the clarinet when he was young, and sang in an a cappella group in Hollywood. I started writing the poems for Missing Shaun because it was my way to get my emotions out, to lay them down on paper, and to try to leave them somewhere safe. These poems were written mostly in the first few moments and days when our emotions were raw, when it was still hard to believe that we had lost him. The last section of poems are a few small letters to you.
Thomas R. Thomas has crushed us with his words and his love. This collection emits a raw, poignant loneliness of losing a loved one. Life is loss. Thomas dances the loss with each quipped line. His words make us tremble for that unthinkable. When they have departed and that silent room hums with stillness. He makes us feel in a time when feelings are to be buried and not to be shared. He has the courage to capture that dreaded pain. His use of time and moments evaporating makes empty car spaces, open doors, and shifting shadows; lucid. May we all have warm compassion when those pained chapters in our lives come. Decidedly well written, beautiful and brave.
—T. Anders Carson author of Unfortunately, Thanks for Everything
Like tiny jewels, Thomas R. Thomas’ poems spill onto each page, chronicling the devastating aftermath of his son’s illness and death. He seeks closure when, sadly, there is none. Thomas has created a loving tribute to his son Shaun, whose cut-short life is both mourned and celebrated in this exquisite, moving collection.
—Alexis Rhone Fancher, author of The Dead Kid Poems, poetry editor, Cultural Daily
If there is a more poignant, heart-wrenching, ruminative, lovely ode from a father to his recently-deceased son than Thomas R. Thomas’ Missing Shaun, I haven’t heard of it. From the opening, diary-like lines chronicling Shaun’s admittance to the hospital, to the deeply lyrical epistle that closes the book, Thomas is a poet whose work calls up the confessional verses of Robert Lowell and Anne Sexton, filling these pages with a homespun spirituality that consistently had me in tears. This is a vital book about grief, about family, and about the love that defines them both.
—Kareem Tayyar, author of Let Us Now Praise Ordinary Things and The Revolution of Heavenly Bodies & Other Stories
I know nothing more shattering than the sudden loss of one’s child. Nothing more tragic than the fulfillment of the great human fear one assumes when accepting the mantle of parenthood—that of out-living one’s own child. Thomas R. Thomas’ poems are spare, sharp, and slice straight through grief’s heart. Finding the image to carry the emotion is the poet’s job. In Missing Shaun Thomas R. Thomas is a master. This is a beautiful, heartbreaking, necessary book.
—Donna Hilbert, author of Threnody