Category Archives: poems about death

Loving Lee

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Loving Lee

She was not the easiest one
to be around, but she was fun.
Her wit was sharp, also her tongue.
And yet, I counted her among
those dearest if not nearest to me.
It was she who chose to woo me
with books she thought me ready for
filled with strange and heady lore
of living by my intuition
through which I came to my fruition.
My whole life was changing then,
Buscaglia and Jung and zen.
I’d moved west and changed my thinking,
took up pot and gave up drinking,
decided that my thoughts on men
needed revising. Only then
did life straighten out for me—
and part of it was meeting Lee.
She read my poems, studied my art.
I dodged her tongue and won her heart.
As she won mine; yet other friends
rejected her sincere amends,
’til I was one of two or three
who chose to let our friendship be.
Yes. It was, I must confess,
because I saw her less and less.
When I moved off to Mexico,
our intercourse was rare and slow.
The one last trip I took her on,
quickly, truth began to dawn.
Her memory span had grown so thin
that barely did a thought begin
before it came around again
to the place where we’d just been.
Sometimes our world leaves bit by bit
until we are well rid of it
Not so the friends who leave us slow.
We still aren’t ready to let them go.
My world was better for loving Lee,
but with these lines, I set her free.

The WordPress prompt today was lovingly. I chose a slightly different approach to the word.

Cruel Infinity

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Cruel Infinity

I cannot face the infinite—
that colossal haunted house—
too many rooms seemingly empty
that teem with invisible somethings
that I can’t comprehend.
How could I find myself in such vastness?
What in those giant corridors knows I exist?
Ego, finally, my undoing, as I fear
becoming part of what I find impossible
to grasp.

Everything I am
yearns towards the specific—
fine detail being more or less
how I have spent my life.
How can such a life be reconciled
with the infinite? Everything
cycling up and up from nothing
and, we fear, back down again.
He who says that nature is not ironic
lies or simply refuses to face the truth.

It is a cruel infinity that has included
such a tiny space
for me.

The prompt today was “infinite.”

Wordless

Wordless

Your words so vivid
that they roped me, 
binding me securely
as they drew me in.

The rub of your words 
and their scent and flavor.
Their nubbiness and length
and width and breadth.

The hands of your words
uprooting me
and planting something
solid in my place.

How could I have known
one day they’d vanish
as though never there.
Smoke signals

from a distant hill
now risen from my sight
and almost rubbed out
from my memory.

 

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The prompt word today was “smoke“.

Playthings

I have always found the below poem comforting and so, after quoting a line of it to Marilyn Armstrong just now, decided to share it with you all, as well. That said, I promise.  No more posts about death. For awhile

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                  Nature

                  by: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As a fond mother, when the day is o’er,
Leads by the hand her little child to bed,
Half willing, half reluctant to be led,
And leave his broken playthings on the floor,
Still gazing at them through the open door,
Nor wholly reassured and comforted
By promises of others in their stead,
Which though more splendid, may not please him more;
So Nature deals with us, and takes away
Our playthings one by one, and by the hand
Leads us to rest so gently, that we go
Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,
Being too full of sleep to understand
How far the unknown transcends the what we know.

Look Up! (Eulogy for a Good, Good Girl)

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Look Up!

She used to chase the shadows of birds across the ground
and dig where they disappeared
and never once thought to look up,
no matter how many times I tried to tell her to.

Chasing light across the pool, she’d pace
back and forth, along its further edge.

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Her first playmates the cats,
she could not follow them up into the trees,
but stood instead, barking at the bark they clung to.
Thinking herself a cat, perhaps,
or all of them some new species in between,
she followed wherever it was possible to go.
Up the broad steps to the second floor,
across the terraza and just a small leap
to the ledge of the high sloping dome of the roof.
Up to its top to lie or stand and bark at all who trudged up our mountain
to intrude into her world.

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She could see for blocks,
turning like a sundial with the sun
to change her focus, but usually starting at the point,
southward, that most invaders came from.
Neighbors led by unwelcome dogs on leashes
passed below her on their morning walks,
or farmers carrying hoes or machetes
up to the fields above.

Lines of burros plodding beneath her, facing uphill,
small herds of cattle
flooding down to the lake for water—
none escaped the attention of this reina,
who would bark directions to be on their way, fast,
and not to loiter.

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No creature had greater staying power than she.
The cats, bored with the high view,
moved to the bushes and trees to hunt possums, squirrels and salamanders.
Only she stayed true to her original position
as she looked ever down from that high dome,
only deserting it a year ago,
when I locked the gate that blocked her progress up—
not because I judged it unsafe for a dog grown arthritic and less sure of her step,
but because of the new puppy,
untrained by cats and with feet less experienced than hers.

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Feeling punished, perhaps, she traded her high domain
for a place beneath the terrace table

from which she watched the two upstarts
speed by to cavort in the lower garden
where she once chased bird shadows in the grass.

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She exercised her staying power one last time
as, looking down on a world reduced to only me,
never once blinking, she stared into my eyes
as I crouched beside the vet’s high table,
and looked straight back up into them,
the closest I’d ever been to her.

That table’s surface, straight and gleaming stainless steel,
was where she lay with her front legs spread-eagled
for the long hour it took to finally climb up that high dome again.
I wonder if she heard me as,
“Good girl,” I told her a hundred times that final hour, and meant it.
“Good, good girl. Look up now. And go on.
You were always such a good, good girl, watching out for us.
But now, look up. Go on.”

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The prompt word today is “Original.”

Spending Time

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Spending Time

What do you value most, my friend? What carries you through life?
Have you friends and children? A husband or a wife?
If what we find of value in all the world contains
all we carry with us when youth and vigor wanes,
would you choose a portrait of all that you have had
that points your view toward happier times as the world turns sad,
or would you choose a camera that points you at the world––
all these younger lives than yours, about to come unfurled?
Whatever gives us life at first, then takes it all away
really only gives us what we have today
to value and make use of. So I want to be bolder,
looking straight ahead of me and not over my shoulder.
Though every hour has value, and every second in it,
the only time we have to spend is the coming minute.

The prompt word today is “value.”

Shhhhhh?

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Silence

What lost sensations do our nightly slumbers bring?
Do colors fade out when we dream? Are scents a former thing?
Does flavor tremble on our tongues in that dreaming land?
Do we hear music in our sleep or feel a lover’s hand?

Let bright colors fill my eyes, let flavors dance my tongue,
and let all those sensations that surged when I was young
once again assault me and guide my sense of touch––
to feel all of life’s textures that once I loved so much.

There will be silence in the future when we’re in the clutch
of that which muffles music, color, flavor, touch.
So let the neighbors party on. Let thunder crash and roll.
Let ravens caw out harshly from each electric pole.

Let babies loudly protest and laughter’s raucous sound
fill my ears like cups and spill out to the ground.
I am sure that one day I will have silence enough
when my final dream guide takes me by the cuff

and leads me off to sleep a final slumber where
supposedly I’ll be removed from every worldly care—
leads me off to dreams where all sensations end
and I shed life’s cacophony as I round the bend.

The prompt word today was “Silence.”