Tag Archives: death

Verses from a December weekend

Two to share. A haiku inspired by a story I heard from Krista Tippet’s Speaking of Faith, and a freestyle verse on time and procrastination. By freestyle, I mean sometimes (usually, actually) I just scribble down some things really quickly on the fly, without any work or careful editing. It’s just kind of verse-improv. It’s usually not very good stuff, but I share it with hopes it will give you courage to try it.


Skates find dark abyss
Glass roof exit hides tonight
Rest in cold surrender


Tomorrow. (Written in the kitchen)

Don’t worry any more,
I’ll surely  start the morrow
with vigor’s determination,
Upon my proclaimed quest.

We’re right here by the door.

Light years ’til the dawn,
Far off across the wilderness,
No telling if far and wide
Will ever take us there.
Old day is never gone.

But wait–my plan is still within,
Untouched, as now becomes yesterday.

What if the buzzer sounds
And I am waiting still?
That perfect time
For my quest to just begin.

The next step that I make
We may fall through into another day.
Could be here already
By the end of this next breath.

Just blink and I will wake,
In time to turn the key.

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Posted by on December 21, 2009 in poetry


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Pain and a Pen, Part 5: the wake

This is the fifth and final part in a series of writings from my Grandmother’s recent death. Today I share portions of the talk I gave at her Wake service. I felt very prepared, and emotionally out of gas, going into the service. I was expecting to have no trouble whatever reading what I had prepared–I had shed all the tears that where in me. Following a great eulogy given by my uncle Dan, I headed to the podium. And then, as my cousin Carey says, I got “leaky.” I couldn’t even get out the first word. This totally surprised me, and I ended up reading it in between lip biting and tears, and ad libbing much of it. Here are some of the things I had written down:

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Posted by on October 16, 2009 in Family, writing


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Pain and a Pen, Part 4: Barbed-wire Sunset

This is the fourth in a series of poems written at my Grandma’s dying bedside. Barbed Wire lives in frustration and, almost, resentment toward the universe for what seemed like an unnecessary dragging on of my Grandmother’s suffering. It was written late at night, just a couple hours before she died. She appeared to be totally unconscious by now, but still responded with a squeeze of the hand when people would talk to her or a new hand would hold hers.

She was on regular doses of morphine to control her pain, but the almost constant quiet, agonizing moans and clinching of her entire body told us it wasn’t doing the trick. Her blood oxygen saturation had dipped below 65%, and her breaths had fallen to 4 or 5 per minute for several hours. I was sad, helpless and begging her tired body to let go. We had all said our final goodbyes, prayed together around her, and had a good hard cry together as a family. And the agony drug on for her, though we knew th end was very near.

Barbed-wire Sunset

soft darkness,
warm chills,
a bead runs down my face
love will wipe my brow.

parched lips and sunken eyes
no voice left of mine,
turn me here to there
this stubborn stregnth of ox.

another dose
to dull the pain,
to find for me some rest.

each breath, a thousand pounds
upon my chest,
weight of this mortal life
I will to drop behind.

furrowed brow
determined to break the armor
of this resilient vessel,
death prevail in time.

who hears my cry
and opens now the gate?
who holds my hand
hour upon hour?

I go into the next
foggy and unknown
and beautiful.

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Posted by on October 15, 2009 in Family, Love, poetry, writing


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Pain and a Pen, Part 3: Home

This is part 3 in a series of poems written at my Grandma’s dying bedside. Home was written on the third evening after the stroke, when Grandma could make brief eye contact with us, and was in obvious agony. She’d told my Mom earlier in the day she wanted to go home, and we knew what she meant. By this time, she could no longer find the energy to speak, and breathing took every ounce of energy and concentration from her. She would only open her eyes occasionally. These verses came to me while contemplating her suffering, and were inspired by things I heard others in the room say and ask about what might be going through her mind now. Home is written from Grandma’s perspective.


eyes gaze deep
my love’s embrace,
words are no more found

look into my journey long
ending as it was born
presence dwells within

let resilient spirit rest
take me home
where peace lives now,
take me home

every breath
a mountain climb
every hour
eternity forelorn

sent off by love,
love waiting still
on the other side

take me home
so ready now
take me home.

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Posted by on October 14, 2009 in Family, poetry, writing


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Pain and a Pen, Part 2: Onward

This is the second installment in a series of poems written at my Grandma’s dying bedside. Onward was written shortly after Love Note, when I was alone with Grandma. It came from a place of really surrendering to true presence of being there with her, and felt as though she was writing it through me, for the family she loves so much. Her children (my aunts, uncles and mom)  later found it in the journal and selected it as the verse to print on the memorial program for her wake and funeral.


gone, not lost,
for she lives on
in me, in you,
in the spirit of life.

every end
is a new beginning
we mourn, not for her
but for our own loss,
our love, our emptiness.

celebrate beloved memories
and tears.
death is life, another step
along a miraculous journey
find joy in letting go.

cherish and keep
each moment we shared
and hug the now,
love never ends.

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Posted by on October 13, 2009 in Family, Love, poetry, writing


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Pain and a Pen: Love Note

Sometime on the morning of October 3, my grandmother had a stroke. Grandma Knox had been in poor health for a while, and the stroke was more than even her resilient, stubborn body could take. She went home early Tuesday morning, surrounded by sons and daughters and grand kids. I know it’s hard for most everyone to loose a grandparent, even when they’ve lived a long life and we know the end is right around the corner.

I love Grandma very much. And this was a pretty difficult ordeal for me, just as it was for the rest of the family. Difficult because I love her, difficult because I watched her suffer through her final days–days where every breath was a painful marathon for her, and difficult because I promised my Grandpa just before his own death that I’d care for her when he was gone. Mostly, though, it was tough because I didn’t want to let go.

During the three days where so many were gathered at her bedside, day and night, to comfort her as she walked into the next journey, I found myself tuned in with a pen. It was an outlet for the myriad of emotions I was experiencing, and it gave Grandma one final voice–at least through my perspective. So, I committed to opening up and being an instrument for the words that seemed to want to be born through me. I captured most of them in the back of Grandma’s last journal, a spiral notebook with a blue and brown floral pattern hardcover. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on October 12, 2009 in Family, poetry, writing


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