In extra time…

It’s called ‘bonus’ or at least is should

because this wasn’t expected, nor

should have been; I’m Irish and male,

for the sake of Saint Patrick, and

I should be dead by now but I’m not

and that makes this a true bonus;

I’ve outlived my own father who

saintedly passed before fifty years,

and all his friends it seems, or so

I read in the obituaries in Sunday’s

Chicago Tribune as I scan the pages

in a sobering ritual of paying homage;

now it’s only a matter of what to do

with these extra days and years.

So everything dies…

Just last week the leaves clung

to their boughs

though heavy and sweetening,


glowing in October’s

blinding noonday sun

with its

hint of warmth still;

dancing in the stir of a breeze

soon to be bitter wind,

but mild still causing all to

inhale deeply, slowly


in a final, seasonal mindfulness

of fleeting comfort;

but November brought a change

of heavy rain

and the verdures no longer clung,

they yielded

and fell underfoot, waterlogged,

soon to rot,


staining the sidewalks if not

raked and swept

to be discarded in bags for burial,


no longer afforded

the final aromatic triumph of

autumnal cremation

stinging the eyes of dancing children

and rake-braced adults

gathered round in funereal muse.

You seem unhappy…

unhappyIt has come to our attention
that you are dissatisfied
with the general experience
of living, or so it would seem;
your constant complaints,
derogatory remarks, groans,
sour grimaces and typical
leave us with no other option
than to conclude that you
would be happier with
some other company;
therefore, please be advised
that effective in the immediate
future, possibly within as few
as six months, your employment
will be terminated and
a severance package will
be negotiated at the
discretion of the management
based upon your history
of contributions made
during your time with us.

Signed, the Management

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.

No doubt of me in you…

funeralLet it be known to all loved and kin
I’m no longer abiding this worldly din.

My many days having run their course
I am no longer as healthy as a horse.

In my last I have some things to say
which leaves my estate in this word play.

It’s not too late if you’re reading this
I’ve had my play and exceeding bliss.

Now without regrets I rest my head
without guilt or pain for now I’m dead.

And if you’re blue, I should be glad
for missing’s a pain that’s not all sad.

My laughter, too rare, is also departed,
my smile, too crooked, was never half-hearted.

But my love for you was always so true,

and there should be no doubt of me in you.

Living and dying with leukemia…

leukemiaCan it be what is deserved
by a four-year-old child?
The cells distorted and
deteriorating inside, from
inside her bones still soft in
youth but fragile from birth,

some signal isn’t working,
white cells that won’t mature,
too full and crowding life from
within; the word everyone
uses is ‘acute’ – a bad and
unwelcome thing with too
many synonyms to count,

all bad and unwelcome things
with a mysterious origin than
no one knows so there’s no
one to blame, except God;
she only has strength to
smile through dry, cracked lips,

her skin is taunt over thinning
features and only her cheeks
show her adolescence, while
adults are masked to protect
her from what’s always worse,
more tiring, more frightening;

it hardly seems right she is
unafraid and just needs to
rest, while everyone around
her is just terrified and can’t.

Obituary for someone named Paul…

The link was obviously incorrect;
I was looking for an update about
Kim and Kanye’s engagement,
but wound up reading the obituary
of a man who wore over-sized
glasses, tinted, his smiling face
thick with wrinkles from too many
smiles or worries, dressed in a
wide-wale corduroy jacket, long
collared shirt and thick tie – all in

earth tones and probably a photo
from the last decade, his name is
(I don’t like to say ‘was’ for some
reason), Paul Edward; he died in

Ohio but wasn’t born there – maybe
marriage or work took him there
from Indiana (it’s next door after all),
but at the end he was alone in Ohio
because Agnes preceded him in
death by fifteen years, as had all his
siblings, Mary and John and
especially his baby sister Judith
who died in 1932 and that must

have been terrible; they had just
one child that survived to write
this obituary but he lives in Chicago;
I wonder how many friends he had
at the end of 92 years because he
had many at one time it seems – he

was high school football captain,
and during the war he was drafted
into the Army and stationed in the
Philippines, his post in hospitals
and recovery wards, and the obituary
said many wounded soldiers kept in
touch with him over the years, but

they’re all gone now too; he ran a
chicken farm for a while after the
war, then a hardware store and he
looks like the guy you could ask
anything and he’d quietly talk you
through the nuts and bolts of

repairing what needed repairing
(and I can imagine him complaining
that folks don’t repair things any
more, they just replace
them – as a commentary about
his generation, the one that

saved the world and was being
replaced now); they said he
was a well-traveled man, but
besides the Philippines all it
mentioned was Akron, Cleveland
and Toledo (and I’ve been to these
places, and they’re nice, but I don’t
think of that as well-traveled),

his story quickly added he made friends
wherever he went and that might
make all the difference in the
world; oh, and he was a Methodist
and sang in a choir for more than
50 years, some of them with his
wife before she passed, and that’s

where he met Agnes and I guess
there’s no better reason to have
a choir, besides praising the Lord,
of course; and if you care about
Paul Edward please don’t send

flowers, just give some money to
a church choir instead because
music was his passion; that’s when
I remembered what I was searching
for in the first place but I don’t
care as much about that now.

I’m 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.

Sin is sin when it’s sin…

History is a tale of fallen’s friends
giving account of what had to be,
fixed by a sovereign who sees the end
saddled with a desire to be free;

lost to be found, but only through Rome
intrude on our lust, our passion, home,
named ex opere – the lusty lie
sprinkle the babies lest they all die;

create the fright, threaten what’s scary
touch our babes, but still necessary,
triumph assured, all wars justified
feelings condemned not capitalized.

Who erred that all are born this way
simply answered, we all come astray,
it’s sin, not hunger, that babies cry,
and not biology why we all must die.

Object permanency and life…

Object permanence is
my greatest enemy;
it teases with the hope
that what I once had
remains, lingering
somewhere behind
the back of time past,
sleepless nights, empty
days, memories dancing
across a screen in my
heart; hiding from
troubles doesn’t make
them disappear, but
the love lost fades
and the only remedy
worth remembering is
I refuse to remember.