Category Archives: poems about death

Word Mill


Mount Señor Garcia and Lake Chapala from my gazebo

Word Mill

The world I see outside my sill—
the clouds that cover lake and hill,
treetops and vines that seek to fill
every space–both rock and rill,
completing  crevasses until
they’ve rendered empty spaces nil.
These things now serve to fuel my quill.
They are my unguent, band-aid, pill.
They prick my fancy, charge my will.
They level out that long uphill
journey to that final kill
when wan and empty, sore and ill,
I will finally pay life’s bill.


The prompt today is quill.



A hand releases mooring lines and I go floating free.
Unmoored and unamóred, I float upon the sea.
Each time I find a tether, it lets loose of me,
for nature seems to be at odds with propinquity.

Nothing lasts forever or even long enough.
Each time the tattered sleeve of time shakes me off its cuff,
I am again amazed that the rules won’t change for me.
Each time I am newly surprised by mortality.

So many friends and lovers, so many family members
who once were bonfires in my life, flicker down to embers
then fade to ashes in a jar sitting on a shelf.
and once again my tether becomes only my self.

It is a cruel truth of life, this ephemerality
that severs every hawser as ones we love go free.
No matter what allegiance, what solidarity
is promised, still the vow that lasts is mutability.


The prompt today is “unmoored.”

Patterns Hinted At in Dreams

Patterns Hinted at in Dreams

………..into my sleep
with parts of self I need to keep.
I take them there to other places
of worn out lives, departed faces.
What would these dear ones think of me
if they were given powers to see
into this future where they’ve not gone?
While I have wandered over yon,
they have remained there behind—
away from future’s relentless grind.
Frozen there, they do not judge
or carry with them any grudge.

I am stitched  in every mind
as I was when they were left behind.
So in dreams I show them me
as though they might furnish a key
to how I’m doing now that I’ve changed.
Have I grown better as I’ve ranged
away from who I was back then?
On awakening, I take my pen
and see if I can recall reams
of words extending from my dreams.

All those adventures, all the stories
of hidden rooms and moving lorries,
ghost friends who orchestrate, it seems,
advice for me from within dreams—
kinder friends who try to wrest
the parts from me that they’ve found best.
They are my teachers, born in mist
to guide me while I can’t resist.

One alters out unneeded parts.
Another makes room for the starts
of what I could be, given time.
With innuendo, symbols, mime,
they hint at where to sew each hem
so though I barely recall them
when I awaken, still there’s a sense
that my life has grown more dense.
Just scraps of them go with me so
I have an inkling where to go
next in life. Each word I write
is a little beam of light
that reminds me, as I sew the seams,
of  patterns hinted at in dreams.

The prompt was “descend.”

(jdb photo) I’ve used this photo that I took a few years ago twice before in my blog, but it is one of my favorites and was just right for this blog, so I hope you enjoy seeing it again as much as I always do.

NaPoWriMo2017, Day 3: Reliquary

daily life color241

On Sunday morning under orange bougainvillea,
Your picture spills from an old album.
You were on a verandah under purple bougainvillea,
drinking the hot noon from your coffee cup
as I drank passion fruit and watched Lake Tana birth the Nile.

Later, kneeling by the river, I made my hand into a cup,

but you called out that slow death swam the blood
of those who touched the river,
while behind you on harsh branches,
black birds barked stark music.

Now, on Sunday morning under orange bougainvillea,
half a world and half a life away,
 I restore you to your proper place, remembering how,
when they laid you down to dream beneath the purple bougainvillea,
it was passionfruit’s sweet poison that flavored my life.


Please also see this elegy:

The NaPoWriMo prompt today was to write an elegy.

Loving Lee

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


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.”



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.




The prompt word today was “smoke“.