Tag Archives: poem about life and death

Traveler

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Traveler

I always took the long road home, hoping to take full measure
of all the things along the way in which I could take pleasure.
When life did all its best to make me speed along its road,
I simply switched to unpaved trails to find the mother lode.
My gains were not substantial when measured against gold.
Most of what I’ve acquired cannot be bought or sold,

but the bounty that I gathered will stand me in good stead
as I plan more journeys from my dying bed.
With all my riches gathered, with all my unseen gain,
I will have booked a ticket on the astral plane!

 

The prompts today are road, speed, substantial and astral. Here are links:
https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/05/05/rdp-sunday-road/
https://fivedotoh.com/2019/05/05/fowc-with-fandango-speed/
https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/05/05/your-daily-word-prompt-substantial-may-5-2019/
https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2019/05/05/astral/

Interwoven

 

Interwoven

Life is like a tapestry, warp giving strength to weave.
Each birth’s celebration a potential loss to grieve.
We might wrangle living’s fairness, its giving and its taking—
one soul giving into sleep as a new soul is waking.
Its weave may seem circuitous, beginnings onto leavings,
all the energy of life–its lovings and its heavings,
yet the flaw within the tapestry is what gives it its beauties.
The pleasures of the life we live are leavened by its duties.

 

The prompts today are energy, tapestry, circuitous, wrangle.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/09/04/rdp-tuesday-prompt-energy/

https://fivedotoh.com/2018/09/04/fowc-with-fandango-tapestry/

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/09/04/circuitous/

https://dailyaddictions542855004.wordpress.com/wrangle

Cruel Harvest

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Cruel Harvest

In this middle morning,
pelicans drop like hail on the surface of the water.
This is not their usual style,
for they do not dive headfirst
and squeeze bills to necks
and swallow as before,
but merely float and dip their beaks
and raise their heads and dip again.

I hope it is not the tiny sea turtles
that we put in the water last night
that they are feeding on like hors d’oeuvres,
greedily.
But surely those turtles,
placed in to swim away 15 hours ago
are elsewhere than this,
facing other dangers, no doubt,
but at least, sad endings  I don’t bear witness to.

 We had waited until sunset
when the birds had gone
to lift the tiny creatures
from their plastic world
and set them,
confused and stunned,
upon the sand
to turn in circles
until we placed them right again
and again,
sometimes patting their tails
to encourage their voyage
to a new life shocking in its largeness.

 “What is this
lifting up and putting down?”
they must have thought,
“and then this broad expanse
that lifts us, spins us,
submerges us?”
Courageously, they lifted their  heads to swim,
only to be tumbled by waves—another  shock.
What more had life to surprise them with?
First, that bursting from the shell that had protected them,
then that thrusting into a colder world.

Children squealed with glee and were warned by elders
not to step back lest they step on the turtles that surrounded us—
all of us looking backwards as we stepped,
cameras clicking,
voices in English, Spanish, French—
all enchanted with these creatures perfectly formed
with black flippers and beautiful shells.
We saw their tiny heads like periscopes above the waves—
swarms of them at first and then separate,
swimming off to their individual fates.
Fifteen minutes later, the rising action
featured a solitary pelican that swooped for one
and then another and another
bedtime snack.
“No,” we screamed.
One woman threw a rock.
These pelicans that had enchanted me for weeks
as I watched their graceful flight and sure plummetings,
now prompted a new story
where they were villains, stopping new life,
bringing back the theme I have been so aware of here
for these weeks of my daily floatings in the sea.

Every organism, every animal, every person on this earth
lives only by merit of the death of others.
When life ends in infancy, how sad, how sad, we say;
but also say seeing the full grown pelican on the beach,
bleached to bones,
its beak sealed shut with a plastic circle from a six pack
or the needlefish, stretched on the sand and picked by carrion.
Never so obvious as here, this feeding of life on life,
and never so startling as when we placed the baby turtles
on the sand, wanting to save one for ourselves,
but knowing this action had a larger purpose than that.

We surrendered them to their life apart from us,
then moments later,
saw the pelican feed on them
guiltlessly,
living his place in the world.
Oh that I, too, had acted more selfishly—
palming one tiny turtle,
putting it in my loose pocket,
keeping it safe
away from that broad sea
that has so many means
by which to claim it.

Courage is the prompt word today. This poem is a rewrite of “Putting the Tiny Sea Turtles into the Sea,” a piece I wrote four years ago when the local sea turtle reserve brought dishpans full of the tiny creatures to La Manzanilla for volunteers to assist in releasing them to the wild sea.

Grand Circle

(Click on first photo to enlarge all) There is a poem after the photos. Someone just suggested I note that here because he didn’t notice it the first time he looked at this post.

Grand Circle

Circle of sunlight, orb of the moon.
Each of their passages over too soon.
What we may find as the day or the night
gives over to nature in its swift flight
is only the present. It isn’t forever.
No matter how talented, selfless or clever
we’ve fashioned ourselves, we’ll all come around
to serve our real purpose, to nurture the ground.

Time chisels away with its constant cruel rasp.
The hold of a lover loses its grasp.
Circles of friends are too quickly diminished.
Everything started soon seems to be finished.
Each rolling stone must encounter a wall.
The dough of the universe rolled in a ball
still lives by the edict that rules us all.
Whatever has risen is certain to fall.

The very stuff of the bodies we live in
are atomic circlings that we’ve been given
to use for awhile before giving them back
to continue their course on whatever the track
is the larger extension of what we’ve been given—
the next destination to which we’ll be driven.
This circle we live from year’s start to December
is simply the circle that we can remember,
most of us hoping we’ll be up to par
for inclusion in nature’s recycling bazaar.

 

The prompt today was circle.

Sifting Time

 

 

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Sifting Time

Suspended between her life and her death,
she measures the intervals from breath to breath,
noting the bed cover’s sinking and lift,
wondering when life will set her adrift.

After a lifetime of effortless health,
she is surprised by the contrasting stealth
and the strength of the grip of what waits at her ending,
no matter what care friends may take in her tending.

As the sands of her life escape through her fingers,
she treasures each grain that stubbornly lingers.
She cannot give up. She has to hold on
until the last grain is fallen and gone.

All of those pleasures that cling to her past
are pleasures now gone. Such pleasures don’t last.
Her life like a book, pages grown stiff with age—
it grows harder and harder to turn the next page.

Her life has turned gritty––a pain and a pleasure.
Each grain that remains both a curse and a treasure.
Afraid to give up what she has for what’s next,
she can’t see the ending. She can’t read the text.

There is no escape and there isn’t a cure,
and though every day goes by in a blur,
yet these last scraps of life still act as a lure
not to give up on life. To simply endure.

The prompt today is curiously similar to yesterday’s.  It is “adrift.”

Afloat

Afloat

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.”

Life and Death at the Beach

Life and Death at the Beach

With babies, every day is an education. This little story was acted out when we went to Tenacatita beach for the day. Down the beach, a tragedy was being enacted as a group worked to resuscitate a drowned man.  Seconds after I viewed this touching scene as two mothers deal with the interaction between their babies, we realized what was happening in the background and we went down to see if we could be of aid.  The oxygen I’d gone back to the house to get at the last minute before we left for the beach was of no aid to them, however, as though they worked diligently on the man and got his heart beating again, they never were able to get him to breathe on his own.  One tragedy, one story of new life.  This cycle is never more obvious than on the beach, but never before so graphically as depicted on this day. To see the happier story, you must click on the first photo.  All photos will enlarge and be presented as a slideshow, complete with words.

The prompt word today was baby.

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.

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.”

Carrying On

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Carrying On

Were they carrying? That’s the buzz.
Was she carrying? Likely was.
In nine months we’ll know for sure,
but we’ll never know if the brothers were.

He carried the play. His voice carried well.
The truth of it they’re sure to tell
as the paper carrier carries the news––
the comics, headlines, play reviews.

Three into ten and carry one.
In long division, that’s half the fun.
Carry on and carry through,
for no one else will carry you.

Those cutter ants you love to hate
can carry 100 times their weight.
We pack 30 pounds in carry-on cases,
carry-out burgers from carry-out places.

Half our lives we carry on.
Then when we are dead and gone,
removed from all this carrying fuss,
what friends are left will carry us.

 

It is probably obvious that the prompt word today was “Carry.”