Posts Tagged death
When your parents die
the movie ends.
Now you’re not playing a part.
You can sit back in your chair,
the one with your name on it,
and watch the action played back.
See the part you played.
Sit uncomfortable beside others,
self-conscious as your playing is reviewed.
And the silence closes in about you
as you see your failings
and the quiet of those around falls away
into the distance,
and your life and the stuff that is you
comes into focus.
A real tearjerker is this.
Who wrote this script?
How could, who would, did I?
They were just people.
Life’s timeline compresses.
Your streaming curve cuts across theirs
And streams away to curve back.
You with your guns firing.
Your stupid guns.
We should have talked more.
Because now I don’t see you
By way of a mirror.
Now I can look straight at you.
And I have to hang my head
So what am I really?
Now I’m in the mirror.
You stayed for a while.
I felt you and I heard your thoughts.
Now it’s quieter.
But one day I may
Have to have that talk.
About how we all made mistakes.
Mine feel so much greater
And I wonder where I’ll sit
Between you and my sons.
Warm air rang chilled,
hammer on an anvil.
Church steeple still
in pleasant landscape
stopped to look
at small life given.
Sleepy world glancing
his way for once
and simmering summer
sultry birdsong sang
So little england carried on
and one who came to pass
and had lived their way
no longer had a choice.
Mild wind in blue sky with sun glinting
off snowy Cretan mountain peaks
and bird song amongst orange groves
ripe with fruit waiting to be picked,
reverberated to a double shotgun blast
as someone blew his brains out
and spread them over the plaster
landscape that was his for too long.
As I wrote mellowed by birdsong,
righteously writing about what was wrong
with no cognisance of what went on
just below my balcony.
A moment came and passed.
And I learned about it from the news.
Written a long way away.
And now when I gaze down,
the birds still sing amongst the oranges.
And the dogs still bark.
As he died and saw the world fade away,
he also saw his life spread out
like a two dimensional fan in front of him.
Then flames appeared and a charred black hole
spread out from the source into the delicate fan spread.
Each blade a part of his life,
crumbling to charred paper and blowing away on the wind.
And so he returned to his original state.
Now able to play a part in the way
he spent his life hoping he might.
Wiser now and on a universal stage
rather than a bit part in a sideshow.
But having learned to understand this.
Standing on the Chain Bridge
Over Budapest’s Danube,
Watching the water flow by.
Gellert Hill stands in the background,
Where the Nazis had their headquarters
In the second world war.
How many Stukas lie buried in river mud?
Bleached skulls gazing up at passing pleasure boats now,
Wondering what it was for.
In a Budapest pub against a wall,
Stands an ancient pram that sits quietly
Amongst the bawdy crowd,
Remembering walks in the park.
Its cast iron wheels and rusty springs
Support a wicker basket lined with
Broken cotton that once warmed
A baby long dead now.
In its place lie old bottles,
And a single, painted plate.
It looks up at the ghost of the woman
Who still patiently pushes her charge
Down tree lined paths in parks
Long since bombed beyond existence.
She sings to her baby
And it beams back,
Its awkward, human hand painted features
Irregular in a mechanised world.
The plate is still there
Whilst the baby’s long gone,
Having lived a process through
Two world wars.
Now through that plate,
The artist and the child join spirits
And smile happily up at the pretty young woman
Who knew nothing of what was to come.
I’m dying. My feet tell me so.
As I pace back and forth
Between hope and despair.
There’s no stairwell to heaven here.
There’s no way to wisdom
Or any such feast.
Just meagre scraps that fall
From processes I don’t understand.
And as for love,
There’s no such thing.
Instead there’s a place in an hierarchy
That deserves regard or doesn’t.
Take your heart and crush it underfoot.
I might have loved you
If you hadn’t looked at me like that.
When I confessed my nature
Didn’t fit the modern way.
And so I’d like to go
To a place where it’s warm.
I’d lie and fade away under
Some wise-wrinkled olive tree.
Even as round and brown little
Beetles crawled over me.
The sighs of the ghosts of gods
Mixing with mine.
Dad was further up the bus queue
He caught one just now.
I’m still waiting.
Some wait in front of me
And some wait behind.
Number 37 or some such.
Don’t know where it goes
Or why it’s called that.
But we’re all waiting for it.
In a queue.
I didn’t see that he’d caught his bus
Until just now when the phone rang.
But then it is a long queue
And he was right up at the front of it.
I remember when he stood
Kicking the dirt right back here
Where I now stand.
Looking about him
And wondering what and why.
I choose to wonder why I am.
Seeking some value in me, relative
To the sweeping misted air that wafts
Over gentle hills
Whilst the birds and the other animals
Continue their dispassionate chat,
Being what they are.
But something in the way that I am
Makes this process too complicated.
As the world happens around me,
I ask too many questions.
There are two worlds.
The real and the human.
I think in one
And I exist in the other.
When I die,
I want to understand the difference
Between the roles I played
Within these two domains
And their respective values.
So I finally get to know where I fit.
You’re sitting on the shore
Of a glassy lake at dawn,
Surrounded by mountains
With tops hidden in cloud.
Behind you is the house,
With warm orange lights.
Your life glowing mellow
Against the blue dark.
Then a fog sweeps in over cold water,
Silent and ghostly.
And gentle and beguiling.
The sounds of the house fade away
And everything is smothered
In milky uniformity.
You sit alone in a space that has no echoes.
That offers no view.
That offers no perspective.
That’s silent as the grave.
What do you see?
What do you hear?
What do you sense?
You know nothing of where
Or when you are
Bar your memories
And your preconceptions.
So be careful what you hold to be true.
Because when eventually you face
The dispassionate silence,
You will need to know yourself better than you do.
I’m listening to Bach. There are two ways I can listen… one is in a thoughtful way, where I assess the music and consider how it’s affecting me and ponder its complexity.
The other way involves shutting down any form of analysis and stopping thinking all together. Then the music washes over me as though I were lying on a beach, letting waves break over my body. Now the music is an occurrence that blends me with the world and the universe around me. Now the boundary between my skin and everything else becomes less significant. As the vibrations of the music pass through the air and into me, I become part of the same contiguity. Part of the vibrating air. Part of the world around me that’s vibrating with these sounds that evoke in my consciousness, emotional responses and deeper perceptions.
How can a mere vibration through air induce me to tears? There’s something happening that is profound and revealing. Something that hints at the true nature of what I am. I am contiguous with everything else, if I let myself be so. I am capable of becoming part of something so much greater them the self contained package that part of me sees me as.
There is an underlying intelligence in all that is, and I am part of that. This material manifestation that I find myself in is wonderful, but it’s a temporary thing. A necessary lesson. Required in order to understand the vastness of the underlying power. To experience the material is to understand the transcendent that powers it. We live in order to make sense of what is. There are always two aspects to everything. The transcendent cannot be without its material opposite. And to know the transcendent, we need to experience the opposite, the material manifestation. And that is why we are alive.
In a cold chill wind one night,
I wondered what it would be like
To be somewhere balmy,
On a warm wind evening
Where cicadas sang,
And golden leaves gave up the ghost
And finally moved on to drift down
To a swirling river passing by.
An ill considered thing so far,
Once viewed from on high.
Swift river of life that moving on,
Carries our golden souls round
In vortice after vortice.
They still seek direction as they sink
Beneath the cloudy water,
Listening to the noise of a million
Sibilant conversations everywhere,
And permeating everything,
As humanity gossips its last throes
Instead of watching.
And he sat there on a bamboo veranda, watching the warm ocean roll in and out, below the bowing palm trees that sighed gently in warm wind. And he reflected quietly on his life and his place in the various machinations of the world that he moved within, and in which and of which he played a part.
And to what degree were his actions consequential? As each wave rolled up the ruffled sand, he saw how each decision he’d taken had made change. Not only in his own life but in the lives of others. And his actions echoed down through the world. He had a place. As the cicadas sang, and the sea hushed it’s complicated language over the shifting sands, he saw how his life played a part. Just a little part.
And as he sighed his last, and his vision blurred, and the sea melded with the sky, he knew that his life wasn’t without consequence. As his children laughed and played in the growing distance. And even as the cicadas continued relentless, he understood that the difference between snow and warm sea is that one is set and decided and crystallised, whilst the other is warm and fluid and undecided. And he knew that being alive was warm water, and that it took death to crystallise one’s view to one such that it held a perspective. Prior to that, only warm and tangled currents could define any view. Confusion. Something yet to form. Yet to crystallise. And only some frozen form that came from the cessation of fluid indecision could ever define him. So he came to know that his death coalesced his life into something recognisable.
Oh arching song that grabs my heart
And drags it weeping through some
Rainbow of myriad colours.
She’s dead now is Amy
And her songs said
How she felt.
But the celebrity world was too stupid
To see. Professing understanding
By way of smart arsed critics
As all failed to see
The broken heart of a young woman
Who couldn’t find a place to be.
Actually it’s true.
It is possible to reach
That suicide may as well
Be the way as not.
I didn’t used to believe it.
But now I’m there,
I see that all those things
That seem so important
But simply are not.
Suddenly there appears
A way of seeing
People and the world around
That seems distinct.
A view of the world that’s
Dispassionate and apart.
And then in seeing such,
One has to compare one’s life
With those others around
That seem so sound.
How could my life have become
As such a small token
But it’s true. We’re none of us
True in any real sense.
We’re mere passing things
In a general sweep of effect.
Tiny by comparison
To the wider view.
I always knew I was different.
And living in the world we’ve made
Means accepting certain norms
And behaving accordingly.
Whatever culture dominates.
I can’t do that.
Snow blows across my screen
As I careen balletically through
Swirling grey and white and blue.
There was that woman I knew once
That like you could swerve and curve
And taunt my sensibilities.
And there was that child I knew
Who grew and slid
From beyond my view.
And there was that good thing I knew
I did for you and for others
Which melted away and went unnoticed.
And I cried too much
And I drank too much
And I lusted too much
And I believed too much
And I argued too much
And I wanted too much.
And I mistook religion for truth.
And failed to look inside enough,
To see the quiet reality that
Could have set me free.
I missed the lesson.
And now in slow motion I careen across
This sliver of road and the gloom
Is always ten feet deep
As trees and posts and cows and things swerve past
Going round me unbelievably fast
And then there’s a shock and silence.
And almost nothing.
But not quite.
And now I see too much
In this still, dark night.
Now I’ve left the movie
And I walk alone through the couples
Billing and cooing and wending their
Way back to their cars and on
To their warm homes together.
I walk past some sorry excuse
That sits there with his cider
Hidden poorly in a bag.
And some slag with legs bare
And tits flaunted to drive me mad
Staggers past with some chav leering
At me to taunt me even more.
I followed them and watched them
And in my mind I felt them
And I ate them
And I swallowed them.
And as the neon windows flickered
Crazily over snow bound pavements,
I saw the sun rise in my mind
And I drew my gun and
I blew their fucking brains out.
Then in a certain patch of snow
The neon stopped flickering
And stayed blood red.
Then there was old Mrs Nocneid. Small and dainty, with a lame leg. Wearing the hat with a fabric flower to one side, and sheepskin boots. Picking her way along the pavement, trying not to step on the patches of snow, and standing in the puddles instead. She’d only popped out to get some onions and a loaf of bread.
Her path took her through the cemetery, where she always stopped to consider at least three of the headstones. Each one a portion of her life, wrapped up neatly in granite, frozen in time. Slow moments pondering, and wondering. And remembering, and sometimes dreaming. The sounds of wind and birdsong becoming distant for her, as her pale blue eyes misted over.
Two youths rushed by on bikes, shouting obscenities at each other and weaving in and out of the gravestones as they went.
“Hey lady.. your turn soon!”
“Fuck off Sim, don’t be a twat..”
And they were through the gate and off down the path, their noise disappearing with them.
But Mrs Nocneid’s world had been ruffled now. And a sibilant wind hissed through the watching Yew trees, blowing snow off the tops of the headstones as it went.
She shivered, her attention pulled unwillingly back from her past to her present, looked around her, and sighed. And the wind sighed with her and became still.
The youths returned, breaking the silence. They were racing each other round the block. Down the path, past the pub, down the high street past the shop, through the cemetery and off down the path again. This time they stopped in the cemetery.
At that moment, bright spring sunlight burst through a passing space between scudding clouds, and the church and cemetery lit up. A cross that stood on top of the roof cast a long shadow over the jumbled headstones, and there lay Mrs Nocneid. She was face up and cruciform, her eyes staring at the sky. Her hat lay some way from her head and her surprisingly long hair lay fanned out on the dazzling snow like a silver halo. She was smiling.
She forgave the boys.
You gracious bird that flies and swoops
Through clear ways that give such view
Of all our lives down here on solid ground.
You cry so loud as you dive and take
The lives of lesser folk living their way
In quiet certitude.
Is it glee that makes you shriek triumphantly?
Perhaps the lives of us earthbound sorts
Are worth less than your kind that soar
And see and know every move we make
To escape your shrewd eye.
You defy and spy our every move.
But I still believe that my life
Is more to me than yours to you.
So let me be and let me fly my way
And add to the world that man may be
And sigh in awe
And in harmony.
Except true union needs that you must kill
Me and my kind and I’m condemned to move
And hide in my slow way.
To try and live another short day.
For I am small and you have grace,
Size and understanding.
Let everyone know that the world we know
Belongs to you birds who see
Our great pretence of being what we’re not.
You Greek gods that float so languid
And smirk at our slow squirm down here.
Please see that we are part of a brotherhood.
As I die for you please give me thanks
That I play my part in your sweet life.
As I become you,
I’ll fly there through
Those careless clouds too.
What’s a ripe apple
Hanging true red and firm
And plump full of promise?
The fruit of a summers sun
And the labour
Of natures effort,
That then falls and rots
Like dreams unfulfilled
In uncaring earth.
Decomposing to become
Damp soil that feeds
The next generation
That dies in a similar way.
And feeds the ones to come
In endless cycle.
Hope and love and procreation
Share this process
And give us perspective.
Life’s not what we are.
We’re more by far.
Some greater thing that
Looks down and sees
The simple machine
That whirls in agony
And joy and energy
To be alive is just a phase
And an opportunity
To see what we are
From a unique and sensual view
That may hurt sometimes
But which will help us to see
Our sweet vulnerability.
Rain will fall
Like tears from stars.
As we’re born,
So we’ll die
But wiser perhaps.
Something to take home.
I thought mine and only mine
And saw the stars then knew
Me for what I am.
Some snivelling piece
Of dog shit
Floating through God.
And then I saw
That mine was yours
And yours was mine
And we moved together
In seamless trajectory
Towards similar destinies
And I laughed so loud!
I laughed and I died
In majestic loyalty.
I hear the dead whisper in the trees
As raindrops shatter on quivering leaves.
Dead buried beneath
Long probing roots in soft flesh earth,
Where the dead of man and plant
Merge in compound harmony,
Watered by the juice of clouds,
To rise skyward through woody sap
And raise their voices in sibilant rainsound
In praise of the God of life.
I’d hate to think that on that day
When I lie there dying I couldn’t say
That I tried to know the right way
And I did my best by all I knew
And even those who’s plight I knew
Little of gained from my insight
As I made my gift to the collective
Effort of the human race
Making it’s way through time and space
Whose domain I leave with final vision
That we needn’t worry about this illusion.
That all will be fine as I die and I know
That it was all a test to see if I knew
What was right
And what was wrong
And I did my best and passed.