On the fun of dying…

I’m dying, you too;

we’re all dying

(that’s what makes us

biologic, real, living);

and that’s what makes

me ordinary – nothing

special at all (and, you

too, by the way).

 

It’s the snowflake

thing; the ‘every single

one is unique’ (which is

not true – repeating

patterns and possibilities

– just not enough time

or data to prove the one

and/or the many).

Since we’re all

unique, and uniqueness

is what each and every one

has in common, then

no one of us – you, me,

him, her, us, them – is (are?)

unique (adjective; one

of its, her, his kind).

 

Moral ethicists wish

to motivate the

bourgeois, hoi polio

to aspire, to rise above

the status quo, keeping-up

all dying but not all living

claptrap that sells

books and seminars.

 

No matter how

many times we’re told,

how much consolation

we gain from being consoled

by such dreams, we all

are the same in that;

all together, altogether,

all are all alike.

 

All die because

all live, all are alive because

all die; we all all

face the same doubt

of dignity, of compassion;

because, not in spite of,

our biology.

On being Irish…

alone-ietmages-17-300x199In this verse no one will die

No one is sick or will grieve

It is not that everyone’s blissful

For that would be a silly lie

But we could use a reprieve

From  the funereal hymnal.

 

This could be about life or joy

Pleasant parks, a May flower

Yet some don’t love the Spring

Allergies and rain may annoy

For some it’s love turned sour

Or that they’re denied a ring

 

Can-do bravery is pleasing

Psalms of life, into the valley

When others perish bravely

We’re moved to day seizing

Coup de grâce to de foudre

Lifely lived, lively not gravely

 

But I’m Irish – death’s our theme

The grave the cradle’s twin

Gentle Lady silenced by Joyce

Heanley’s Naturalist midstream

Yeats killed off Paddy Flynn

Wilde at the grave’s lost voice

 

But I’ve promised no decay

Disease, mortality or demise

Instead we’ll think of the morn

And life as a grand parfait

Beauty we will not despise

Nor emote so as to mourn

 

So here is the happy end

Ever after, fondly, cheerful

Hoping you feel better with this

And sleep better, life commend

Laughing instead of tearful

And not dying (today) is bliss

 

Then there is the miracle

When death is itself done in

But how often does that occur

Hope is fine, gullibility satirical

And none escapes original sin

For death one may not defer

Once upon a time we died…

I am accused of
having a preoccupation
with death,
the dead,
the anticipation of dying
(which we call birth),

bereavement intrigues me,
hospice and palliative care
I consider bemusing,
even amusing at times;
death and what it means
and doesn’t mean
(everything),
who it involves
(which is every single
last one of us,
no matter how much
we ignore it, which we do,
we all do),

but death waits for no man,
or woman,
or child apparently,
so before I could
invite it in for a drink,
a conversation,
it chose me,
when I was just a boy,
disguised at first,
but today bold and sociable,
yet never
on my terms,

and that’s how it all began
and that’s how it all will end,
and I’ll admit
the accusation has a ring
of truth to it.

I wonder if God attends funerals…

funeral 1She came to his funeral because
she said she should, she said she had to
because she knew that doing no harm
wasn’t the same as no harm done;
she was the first doctor I’ve seen in such a place
as if doctors don’t do death,
but every single patient they see dies,
someday and often only after they visit their doctor;

I mean, think about it… have you ever seen
a doctor attend a patient’s funeral? No, me neither,

I’m more of a philosopher and only pretend to know
the why of everything,
which reminds me: Do you know
the difference between God and a doctor? It’s
simple: God doesn’t pretend to be a doctor;

and it all makes me wonder as I sit in the second
pew, on the left, watching young children cry,
I wonder if God attends funerals.

The Irish die better than most…

IrishAn Irish wake is simple enough to observe
In summary it takes one and a clan, all devoted
Or should I say, one willing to die, the others to wake
Which requires a disproportionate sacrifice indeed
Like a pig and chicken to bacon and eggs
One sacrifices and the other just gives
Such forfeiture is an Irish wake creed

The deceased must die, unexpectedly deserved
Without diagnosis (that would require a surgeon)
And a male subject seems to be an absolute necessity
For men die younger and more often of course
Leaving some to wonder if the women ever pass
Or if the Irish wake is mainly a misandry liturgy
Retribution for hardship with no divorce

Let’s say Seamus failed to awake one day
Not through any fault of his own this time
The drink didn’t keep him asleep but death killed him
And he wasn’t noticed to have taken his leave
Until bean chéile scolds the deceased harshly
Upbraiding him for laziness while she labors on
Then in fault her anger turns to a guilty heave

To the window, new widow, to the window fly
Open it wide for his spirit has been cooped in
All superstition and lore are intense at times such as this
And it’s believed that an escape he must make
You in his state must remain the man’s servant
With the wake just begun you’ve still much to do
He’s out for the day and he won’t be home late

Having begun now wait briefly to shut it again
Lest he repent and wish to return, lock him out
Sadly he leaves but now and forever he must stay away
And her true gift must now can be observed
To telegraph the news to friend and kin alike
Crying he’s passed just as one would expect
But certainly not as he or we all deserved

Next to the clocks if there be more than one
And stop time in respect for it seems poetic
While everyone else hastily prepares the house for visitors
‘Tis no better time to make the appearance clean
Cover the mirrors throughout the house as well
In fear that someone might spy death itself
And the next demise would be foreseen

It is necessary that the body be prepared
And shaved to make the man presentable
Whether as such he appears more handsome is debatable
His one suit never fit him right and now as well
But out of respect he’s dressed and tied together
Older women do this because they’ve all seen
There are no surprises with an Irish swell

After the man’s body is bathed and freshed
Handy women would also band his jaw shut
Lest the lout gape back at them as if he’s trying to speak
They’ve heard enough and’ll hear no story
He’s sent off well and well silent he be
They’ll be no drawing attention to himself
As he waits patiently in dear purgatory

The table is for today his place of repose
Oddly sacred but in an unusual fashion
And all gather to remain attending this reserved vigil
Cross oneself, prayers silent but well versed
Friends kneel, but family must kiss his cheek
All pray for his soul as they’ve always done
And they’re respectfully quiet at least at first

Quiet is not a room nearby kept for keening
This wailing is bitching at the man himself
They wouldn’t complain so to the Lord or blaspheme
Loudly screeching  these banshees in grief
A true Irish symphony of widows and wives
Pausing only to sample meal and tepid tea
With no proper meal only eating in brief

With these formalities having been filled
We turn to the heart of the gathered throng
Food and drink as in meats and breads and alcohol strong
Conversation comes much easier with such prying
Lies flow as freely as drink in pleasant memories
Raising the glass encourages rounds of affection
Toasted with fondness forever undying

Candles are lit, a dozen with one Judas put out
For even the Lord had a neighbor ill tempered
Tobacco and pipes, lard and hard spirits were men’s share
Always plenty since there’s no woman to warn
And they’d give them rest and something to do
Rest was allowed but sleeping lacked respect
As the watch carried into night and new morn

Games fill the hours not to pass the time
Playfulness mocks death but not the deceased
This hoolie is underway and will carry on without guilt
As the door welcomes but no one departs
And none contemplate what done him in
Knowing what doesn’t send death to flight
So they dance to show the ache of hearts

The blessed rosary is recited mid-night
A decade signaling the end of the vigil today
But simply a respite in the country as they await the morn
The Father and Mary are made to attend
Invited by the women but observed by all
And stories are woven by the teller of tale
Binding living to dead to grave transcend

All the debts of life are due the widow now
This dying fails to undo anything done
For all the good such men are for, fightin’, bonin’, drinkin’
The scars are deep, the children horde
And friends take up the pub where left off
Sell what she can, no sentiment to afford
Save us from his sins, our merciful Lord

Promises are made but needn’t be kept
‘I’m sorry for your trouble’ is solace enough
Only deeds have value and of course ordering of the coffin
It matters that you show forgetting his mistakes
It’s remembered more than you can imagine
For this is the Irish way when words are many
Only rivaled by the number of our wakes

The keening fades as the morning dawns
When undertaken away the reason to gather
Saddest, last of all farewells this exit will not be undone
Forced to send-off this cheerless bier
Roads no longer rise, breeze is stiff afore
The sun now hides and storms drown all joy
We may meet again, but there not here.

Every good story begins…

In every good story someone dies
(sometimes, but more frequently,
in bad ones as well); not always
tragically or poignantly, not always
sadly or in a timely fashion, usually,
importantly a death is required.

It may be that it’s a way to make
tales more authentic, but it ironically
renders death’s severity a mere ploy
in the hands of desperate dramatists
longing for gravitas yet in failure;
simply turning dust back to dust.

Occasionally it’s accidently but
unexpectedly; and if the desire is
manipulative – the death of a child,
boy or girl, either will do – to tweak
the emotions of even the hardened
with an appeal to the weak.

Now multiple deaths are a waste
to an author and thus school bus
fatalities (a kindergarten field trip
tragedy) are typically avoided
and mass murders’ victims aren’t
the story in the first place.

Too many tales are funereal,
too many yarns come undone
and too many wakes begin stories
of too many things gone wrong;
dramas of dads and mamas
until death does everyone part.

Narrators, of course, play God
knowing, seeing all, all at once
what’s in heads, hiding from light
but telling us only part of a story;
this or that reason for lost life,
providing knowledge we lack.

But the human story’s author
has wasted over a hundred billion
anonymous deaths littering lands,
mocking prophet amidst dry bones;
as the deity’s wonderful plan for life
trumps all novelist’s narratives.

Come to an End

All things come to an end
this is the way of the living,
the happy and the dying;
the fight itself is noble, yet
will be lost, defiance is
to rage and flail and fail,
ignorance is to toddle,
immaturely, in darkness
in blind, avoiding hope,
sadness is surrender,
futility begets sorrow,
censure yields mockery
but eulogy is salvation for
it gives the end to all things
and all things come to an end.

Praise or Pity

StarsAre we to be praised or pitied?

Creatures starring at stars

dreaming of loves dear lost

hoping as death takes us

every day, each and every day;

living long enough, across enough

to share the love we knew

with those whom we wish to know

that we loved as we were loved.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep…

now I lay me down to sleep...Looking off she quietly said,

“I’ve been practicing death since

I was born… closing my eyes every night,

happy enough to dream I’d awake another day…

it’s like we were born for this – trusting rest, but it

takes a lifetime to learn to be ready for it.

And I’m ready.”

Famous Last Words

What if the last thing you ever said
to your father was “I hate you”? Not
‘Good night Dad’ or even ‘I love you’
or the in-between child- and adulthood
‘Thank you’ which shows the first signs
of understanding how much he doesn’t
do that he wants and instead how
many times he did everything for you,
and how much he gave up so
you could have what you thought
was so little and you said those other
three little words, “I hate you,” the
night before he died and that was
more than forty years ago now; what if
that was what you had to live with?
I wish this could be some moralizing
poem by Edgar Guest, or a saying
from some wise Chinaman, but I didn’t
have the luxury of learning secondhand
what mistakes I’d already made like
saying “I hate you” to my Dad one
afternoon and refusing to speak to him
ever again in an eleven-year-old tantrum
because he wouldn’t give me an
advance on my allowance so I could buy
a model car at the toy store that day.
He would take me there after going to
the hardware store on Saturday mornings
where I’d play with the screws and bolts
while he talked to the guys wearing blue
or red vests about hinges or tools and
I’d fidget until he was done and I got
what I wanted and looked at every
model car, plane and ship available.
He was teaching me the value of a
dollar and the meaning of credit and
debt and I was learning he could buy
anything he wanted but he didn’t want
what I wanted and so I taught him
how hateful an eleven-year-old could
be, and I meant it, I really did. Until
I woke up the next morning, that June
Morning, with guests crowding my home
and my Mom sat me down and told
me that Daddy had died and I cried,
mostly because that was what everyone
else was doing and ever since that day
because I couldn’t take back the very
last words I ever wanted to speak to him,
and I’ve been sorry for a long time now,
Dad; really sorry.