It was only to be expected, I guess. When I was young, I felt affronted by the prospect of death; as I age, death seems , while still frightening, increasingly natural.
Death’s Blue-Eyed Boy
My father was certain
What would happen.”Like snuffing out a candle,” he’d say.
“Like turning out all the lights in the world at once.”
I have a different take on death:
I think I’ll pass
Into an alternate universe
Where I’ll get another chance
To do it right.
I just reviewed this site…no less than six posted poems since January have to do in some way with death, which is strange, because as I grow older, and as I experience the deaths of others close to me, death has become a part of life. But when I was young, I was haunted by a pervasive fear of death. Either I dealt with it ironically, as here, or aggressively, as in the following verse from 1965:
I know you, Death, you cannot hide.
It’s most unseemly to be weak.
Come out – I shall be satisfied
With only – call it – “morticide”.
Since that your moving finger writ
Your name in blood upon my cheek,
My honor’s called out for revenge –
You must be made to answer it.
You shrink, my friend? Is that a twinge
Of fear on your unmanly brow?
I am Immortal – I have died.
You must be made to answer now.
I wrote the following in my twenties, and it has long been a favorite of mine. Is it light verse? Is it something more?
A PLEASANT CHAT
I spoke to Death the other day.
We had a pleasant chat.
He told me he was on his way…
But, here, no more of that.
I offered him a cup of tea.
“Rest here a bit,” I said.
He stood a moment silently,
And then inclined his head.
“One lump or two?” I asked of him,
“None,” came the reply.
“I drink it black. Seriatim*.”
“I see, of course,” said I.
“My work is hard,” he said at length,
“No time off, you know.”
“The tea was fine – the perfect strength,”
“But now I have to go,”
A gentleman, you must agree.
Some things you cannot learn.
He clearly thought a lot of me.
He promised to return.
*Seriatim means one after another