Tag Archives: death

Six late winter mornings

Six late winter mornings

1.
It’s the underlined day
On the calendar of forgiveness.
But I cannot make the call.

2.
I get up early
To let the dogs out but

It’s too cold–they stay on the porch
As if waiting for a ride to pull up

Or a drink. I walk to the back yard
And relieve myself

Against the frosted grass.

3.
The black rabbit
Lounges in his hut

By the family vegetable garden.
He often rode on the back of our dog.

One day he lay on his side,
Not waiting for the morning

Or for us to find him.
He was finished and he went.

Leaving only a stiff black shroud
And the sound of birds.

Winter leaves like that.

4.
In our blizzard-crafted snow cave
We almost died

But the snow plow missed us as we hid.
Years later, my childhood friend Marty

in his capacity as a civil servant
of the public works

Tore up a curb with his plow right
Across the street from

Where we’d once schemed
How to pay for the garage window

We broke with a barrage of snowballs.

5.
After an early March storm
I snuck out before my son woke

To make lumps in the snow
Like snake coils surfacing.

Over breakfast I swore
I saw the Loch Ness Snow Monster

Out the bay window in the plow drift:
When we went to investigate

He discovered a large egg
Of ice, snow, and dirt

By the edge of the plowed pile.
He demanded we take it inside.

We put it in the freezer
To see what would hatch.

6.
Spring grows over the winter
Like a scar

The hurt season’s swelling
Diminishes

We almost over-reach for it
As if we prefer being sore

Over forgetting, a cloud
Ceiling over empty blue sky.

Poem to be read in the middle of the night (v)

Poem to be read in the middle of the night (v)

We never plan to leave. Even with no pretense
to stay, a moment washes over me that I could

be dead this moment, and of what I would not
have the moment to question, only gone,

leaving behind a family and world unprepared
to master day and hour and mortality, not

by me at any rate. Teeth in, fears bared,
no held breath barred, I breathe a bit longer.

December 30

December 30

 

All winter the days will grow– into winter’s death
Where light and darkness equal out.

Penultimately just nine days in it serves us
To pretend the end of anything–

So make your list. Sum it up
Like any cat lifting its tail to spray

Against the furniture. Already the leaves
Hiding like a punchline to a joke not yet told

Are laughing at how quickly the living forget
The cold, the weird verse of numbing wind

I hear in my mother’s painting of snow
And sunset, starlings on the highest branches

Of black walnut, as light as the best and worst
Of any year, as gone as the dead who won’t come back.

Uncle Tom Shortall’s Gone

Uncle Tom Shortall’s Gone

Uncle Tom Shortall’s gone, is dead
more myth than relative taller than life
whose eyes were higher than my father’s head
whose booming voice was an open door

whose sons surged through the den each year
who (he said) fed alligators in his dark basement
whose eyes were clowns who had no care
whose smile brooked no impediment

Uncle Tom taller than the fridge and most
could reach the liquor bottles with his eyes
blow off the dust for the once-a-year toast
where did he go what is it he sees

in the space beyond basements and christmas eves
where mice run away with a broken moon
where pain is fed to snapping teeth
Uncle Tom you left too soon

 

Author’s note: Tom Shortall was a beloved and to me legendary figure in my family’s Christmas Eve parties. It was not an official Christmas Eve until the Shortall family arrived. This poem doesn’t do justice to his life, of which I do not know much, but hopefully does justice to how big and generous a personality he was to the boy I was and still to some extent am. -JS

Carina

ScargoMYC

Carina

You will never be at anchor.
There are more graves than waves at sea.

We sail through our dead with every step
And honor the skill of dead-reckoning — figure out

where you are from where you’ve been —
Always a looking-back. Just ahead

Of the breastbone, like cartilage that catches
Flight, is the curve that carves our path.

September Bonfire

September Bonfire

bonfire

In the bonfire I see something that would eat even death.
So death must not be made of air after all.

I see summer’s bones smoldering long after the flame.
The seasons curled like scrolls of verse around each other collapse.

We have one of these every month, the landowner tells me.
Just from the stuff that falls away.

The one who stands in darkness while the other watches the sun set
will be walking in the morning sun while the other kicks off a fitful dream.

At a certain point it will make sense to gather fallen branches.
To dream wide awake of a motion that will eat even death.

#FullMoonSocial // (No) Reflection, by Mary Winifred Hood Schwaner

(No) Reflection

When you die it’s the dark moon
that keeps you company in the eternal evening.
No reflection — just deep space
rippling and bending around you.
No light can find you here
where the moon is a black stone
in a black pocket.
No increase, no decrease,
no connection to the flow of tides and time.
No time has ever passed. No illusion of light, illumination
or radiance. Not here among the dying stars
where memory spills its last drop
into the night and vanishes.
No vanishing. No dying. Only being.
Free of form. No form. Free.