In that dying moment
I will use the old folks’ tricks against them.
Childishly, as familiar, floating faces tease,
I will dip in a toe for temperature.
”Come in,” their forgotten voices will call. “The water is fine!”
”I have just eaten.” I will answer. “And should probably wait an hour.”
One last time
do not cry for me
I am not sad
nor should you be
let us remember
all the yesterdays
the path we trod
the life we built
the love we shared
the memories we made
tell the stories
of days gone by
when we laughed
till we cried
let us laugh
as you hold my hand
hold me close
as I close my eyes
one last time
All This Darkness That Lay Ahead
Literary critic Hugh Wright delivered in a thesis at Princeton during one of his most celebrated lectures that the truest art comes from the mystery of death, as only absolute life in its purest form can spawn from such darkness.
In February of 1939, the blues singer Minister Silver Hughes was shot in the heart while playing at a dive bar in Jefferson, Mississippi and died eighteen hours later in his mother’s house while a veterinarian tended to his wounds.
While on his deathbed, a song collector from the Library of Congress came to record him play one last song. It is said that the Minister made up the final song on the spot.
Its last word cannot be clearly deciphered. He sings, “The voice rang and echoed of thunder—Come hither unto the meadows/shadows.”
He either sings ‘meadows’ or ‘shadows’. Each word clearly indicates an entirely different theme.
The song itself seems to be a passage unto another world. You can hear the strings tether and bend like candles being lit and his own voice haunts the song as it were the recording of a ghost. He hums the outro—either as a gospel singer or demented soul lost at sea.
It transports you unto the ship where he steers. The destination is either a garden or darkness and is impossible to know which.
The painter Virgil Day’s masterpiece is considered “Chickamauga,” where he depicts in detrimental detail the dying faces of dozens of Union and Confederate soldiers on the battlefield.
Each soldier Day painted was real, and really died that. Each not yet twenty years old.
Overhead hang clouds shaped as Greek gods and constellations referencing imagery of the New Testsment. The soldiers look up into the night. What are they looking at, I always wondered. It haunts me. What do they whisper into the eternal night.
One of my favorite poets died of liver failure while on a reading tour in a hotel bath tub. He had a tray of paper and a pencil where he wrote down his final words. They were, “All this darkness that lay ahead…”
It is apparent when looking at the original document that he intended to write something more, some revelation about this world and a world to come, but, obviously died mid-sentence, leaving the reader to agonize forever what comes next.
I have a recurring dream where I’m being brought to hang in some town in the old west.
There’s the deputy sheriff there to throw a black mask over me before they lower the gallows and a gathering of a hundred some-odd folks who have paid money to bare witness to it. They are excited to see me die.
I see some beautiful eyes out there. I see clouds. Birds. A breeze whispers across my body, casting waves of chills through me. It almost fills like ecstasy.
I am always just fixing to speak my final words on earth before I wake up.
The Landlord of Mona Lisa’s Smile
I wish that I found myself sooner, so I had time to fix what I left behind me, withered and destroyed in my rampageous wake. While the fallout begins to settle around me, and I lay here on my deathbed with particles of dust burning into my eyes, I realize I should’ve taken the time to love myself first, before all else, so I could’ve had the confidence to chase my dreams earlier in an attempt to ratify a peace within. Only then would I have achieved the capacity for loving someone with absolute surety, with a higher level of maturity, and with an undeniable honesty. Only then could I have offered you a rent-free key to an uncluttered room dedicated just for you, with your nameplate fixed on its entrance door, deep inside my interior walls.
I wish I had loved you more.
I wish I had loved you deeper.
I wish I had loved you the way that you loved me, and regret not offering you the opportunity in return to feel the wholeness, and warmth that I did with you in my life.
Not loving you the way that you deserved, will go down as the Mona Lisa of my failures.
New Mexico was so beautiful.
When I went last, it wore a cloak of dry sand and a crown of turquoise. Call it austere, but I find loveliness when life is stripped to its essentials, when the little disagreements between humans are forced to melt before the blazing sun.
A philosopher would say that humans are always forced to face the looming presence of death. But what nice distractions we have! And no one believes that they will die. The concept of death is so antithetical to life. Some say that the briefness of life gives it meaning, but I was never one to stop eating chocolate cake just because my stomach hurt.
So with my final words, I curse death. This desert was never meant for me.
And here I am.
Here, my egoistical belief I was infinite,
Meets its binding fixity.
How ever did I allow nothing but memories.
to fool me of my being's locked tragedy.
How did I allow mere capricious moments,
to let me forget of my mortality.
Windy skies, messy laughter, thoughtless dance, busy summers,
Was it enough to overlook my finality?!
I am every taut touch, slack smile, skittish kiss
Yet in the end, I am nothing but a body.
Oh, but truly,
I wish you blind conceited eternality.
My Job Here Done
My lessons learned
my service over
my body ready to be shed
my spirit longing
from whence I came
love peace eternal
welcoming me home.
The room cools around me. The water I have soaked myself in dyes my clothes in crimson. I didn't think it would turn out this way. Maybe they'll forgive me. My arms are too weak and became too weak after I lost control. I can't believe I lost control. The sadness... The voices in my head that I fight daily finally won. They coaxed me back to the blade and directed me to play the symphony that every edgy teenager who has ever had a touch of sadness writes about.
You never know what you have until its gone is what they say. Maybe I didn't only have sadness. The saddest time in my life and my old friend is nowhere to be found. Maybe he's out celebrating his big victory while I lay on the mat reeling from the fight. I can see my breath now, watching my soul slowly slip out and go to God to explain this. What's my explanation? God, the sadness... The sadness, Lord. My man laid on a cross and died for us and I slit my wrists over losing a job and not having money to get my dreams. The lights are dimming now and I'm losing my vision.
The fight has left me breathless, sweaty, and tired. I hear the sirens in the distance and wonder if my note is good enough. Did I apologize enough? Will my family forgive me? Will my friends ever recover? Slipping like I did in the bathtub when I tried to fight again before the final blow, I lay there watching the lights flicker. I see Emily's fly buzzing, hear Hemingway's hyenas in the distance. How will they donate all my books? What will they think of me after I'm gone. The light flickers and flickers and flickers and flickers and flickers--
Precious time you passed so fast. Lord, thank you for being with me from start to finish, for your love and forgiveness. My journey home begins.
I will probably go out with the following words:
How did I get so old?