What is original about sin…

History of Sin

History 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.

I’d prefer not to die…

Ode Not to Dying

In this poem no one will die
no one is sick or will grieve
it’s 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 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.

Keeping a bag packed…

Keep a Bag Packed

Some days it just isn’t worth trying
but I do
because that’s how Dad told me to,
it won’t make sense when you do
he’d say
but trying is its own reward one day,
that, and keep a bag packed always
he did,
but never said he was going away
until it was too late for me to say
not to,
but that’s between me and you.

S L O W down… or else…

To Be Read S L O W L Y

Don’t you hate
being told how to
read, how to enjoy,
how to be; it’s like
being told how to
breath or piss,
both as necessary
and both as problematic,
eventually,
so do try not to hate
being told to do
the things we will all
forget one day soon.

An Irish wake…

An 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.

 

It’s Spring so let’s think about death…

Daylight-Saving-TimFinally. Daylight Savings Time has arrived (right on schedule), and it has an officially recognized moniker – DST. We’ve all lost an hour of sleep we could ill afford, and so, of course, my thoughts turn to death, dying and all things funereal. (Yes, that’s a word – a very good word used of the mournful and somber character befitting funeral pageantry.)

A friend named Pat – a good Irishman if there ever was one – died one Spring day a few years ago. He was supposed to die three or four times before he actually did, but that doesn’t matter when it finally, finally happens. I visited him like a pastor would (should) visit someone like Pat, until there were no more visits.

He Died Today

It’s been years, too many,
far removed from laughs
and tears of caretaking and
taking care of a flock that
was never mine but minded
me; to hear that he’s gone
after starting his last fight
so long ago and doing it
right by undoing petty things
with gentleness; my friend’s
heart has stopped and
started, fits and fought
but not for naught he
gained a decade of life
he made surviving an art
from that first Eve’s eve
night, fighting off death
with tears of Irish fears;
and today, a message left
that death’s theft took
Pat leaving me wondering
that this is all I have to
say because another part
of me died today.

Have you ever noticed the carpeting at funeral homes? I have. The typical pattern is named Afshan Disperse in the funeral homes I’ve visited.

Afshan Disperse

After the greetings,
hugs and handshakes and embraces;
after the waiting and viewing and that
moment (not too short or too long)
of silent, somber lingering or kneeling,
and turning once again to the living
for that awkward ‘Good to see you’
but not under these circumstances
and gather once again with someone,
anyone you might know or should,
you find your way to a seat to wait
in the quiet. What do you notice?
Well I look down
to the carpeting and take careful note
of the patterns or designs and colors;
because I’ve seen at least a hundred
funeral home carpets and more to come,
either arboreal and muted, turkman calm
arabesque faded, even bushy but mild,
never geometrical and never simple
but if one looks carefully and follows
there is always repetition in some feature;
it’s not plain or textured or bright or bold,
but able to hide blemishes.
Head bowed in sulking
not in prayer or pollyannaish thoughts;
even as an adult I compare all these carpets
with the first I saw in my eleventh summer
when I spent two days in tears and scared
with my dad in the casket, adults weeping;
sick of weak tea and toast and shrugs,
promises of comfort that were never fulfilled;
it was an afshan disperse, blue and ecru
random scatter of motifs unrepeated,
disconnected and I searched for order
and patterns in hope but I found none.
and I searched for order and connections
patterns and hope but I found none.