Monday, December 21, 2009

grief poem. written Monday, December 7, 2009, 12:52am. 1 Month, 2 Days. posted on FB Monday, December 7, 2009 at 9:28pm

How can you be dead, my love?
You crackled with life
It sparked off your fingertips
Your gaze was like a thousand suns
How did you not set trees alight
With just a glance?
How did you not start forest fires?
You were like a living flame
Vibrant, like lightning--
But why just as brief?
How could you die?
You artist of subtle instruments,
You made them dance.
You played me like an instrument,
You set the universe ablaze.
How can you, with so much life, be dead?
How can my tower of strength be broken?
You rescued me in times of trouble
But I was not there to rescue you.
It was on you that I would lean,
Now I stagger on empty air.
You kept me sane. You held me up.
How can you be no longer there?
Every 'not yet' became 'never'--
Nearly, almost, wait, and soon--
Everything that we had hoped for
Is gone now, and gone forever.

grief poem. written Sunday, December 6, 2009. 1 Month, 1 Day. 10:30pm. After driving past the cemetery. Originally posted on Facebook Monday, December 7, 2009 at 9:19pm

Trampled, crumpled, storm-tossed, torn
Wrenched and wrecked beyond repairing
Burnt and broken, pocked and pitted,
Shattered, crushed, beyond all caring
Ripped to shreds, gone rotten, rancid, ruined
Pincered, mutilated, splintered
Drowning, flailing, weeping, wailing
Smashed and scattered, smeared and smattered
Bruised, bewildered, battered, broken
Shrunken, shaken, overtaken
Avalanched and buried under,
Ambushed, waylaid, beaten down,
Shivering, shaking, broken and still breaking,
Waves and billows have surrounded
Me, and trapped me under, drowning
Weary, past caring, dried out, spent
Rent into pieces past all mending
Mortally wounded, yet not dying
Lost in the bleakest arctic winter
Lost in darkness neverending
The rack, the wheel, the bed of nails
Torturing, tearing, racking, rending
What's already rent--How can
My shattered bits still cling to life?
I cannot follow where he went
Feel widowed, who was never wife
Feel dead, yet still remain in life
I wander, wounded and bewildered
Like a homeless refugee
All is foreign yet familiar
And every light is dark to me
I walk unseeing, seeking succor
I cry out, but I cannot hear
Am I struck dumb? Blind, deaf, and numb--
Let every mirror now be shattered
The end, the end's already come
My life's been stopped, that was beginning
The battle's lost, that I was winning--
I cry for help, but cannot tell
If I've been heard or not; my ears
Can't hear, my eyes can't see;
Familiar paths are alien
And every road is dark to me.

reflection poem. written Friday, Dec 4th, 2009. 4:24pm. 1 Day Short of 1 Month. posted on Facebook Monday, December 7, 2009 at 9:00pm

No man chooses the hour of his going hence.
Only to a few saints is it given to know it
If we knew it, could we bear it?
We could not.
Many would choose the hour of their going hence,
To quit rather than be fired--
To retain their illusion of agency,
In charge of your little world.
But know--
What more than death serves to remind us
Who wish to control our little worlds,
That the world is out of our control?
Our vaunted technologies are all towers of Babel,
Vanities of vanities,
Futilities of futilities,
Chasing after the wind.
Have you caught it yet?
Sometimes, we can slow death, but not stop it;
And sometimes it cannot even be slowed.
There is more on heaven and on earth, Horatio,
Than you know, or are even able to know--
We can split the atom,
We cannot create life.
We cannot prevent the hurricane
From making its landfall,
And we often misguess where it will land.
We cannot still the earthquake,
For all our Richter scales.
Reinforce your architecture,
And your buildings still fall down.
We can hem in the forest fire,
But it will still eat its trees.
Man cannot prevent his going hence.
All his strength and all his science
Are ultimately laid low by it;
Try to defeat it all you want,
But you will overreach.
Lay siege to it all you desire,
It will force you to retreat.
Tell me, with your fishhooks, O man,
Have you yet caught Leviathan?

When the elderly die, it's a pity;
And sometimes it is a mercy,
If their dying is slow and painful;
A mercy, if you love and must watch it.
When the young die, it is tragedy,
Something past understanding.
Why would they die in their youth,
In their prime? When they have not yet
Had full measure of time?
When their life should still lie before them?

This we know: that you, man, are mortal,
And the hour will come for your going hence.
When the Bridegroom comes at midnight,
Will your lamp be found alight?
When the Son of Man comes like a thief in the night,
Will your soul be found watching?
Let us look to the parable
Of the rich man with all his storehouses.
He was not called a fool for his storehouses,
He was not called a fool in that he was rich.
For what then was he called a fool?
For assuming that all he had came from himself,
Assuming that forever he'd live with his wealth.
But the Lord said, You fool,
On this very night
Your life will be required of you.
God lays claim on you,
Whether you claim him or no.

And then James says, If you say
That today or tomorrow, we will go
To such-and-such a city, spend a year there,
Buy and sell, and make a profit--
This is foolish arrogance,
For you do not know
What will befall you tomorrow.
For what is your life? It's a vapor
That appears for a time
And then fades away.
So instead, say,
If the Lord wills, we shall live
and do this or that. Do not boast
Of tomorrow, for you do not know
What even today will bring forth.
Why is such boasting called evil?
We cannot claim tomorrow.
Yesterday, we cannot change.
We have only Today.
This is why Hebrews says,
While it is still called Today,
Do not harden your hearts
In the deceitfulness of sins.
We are become partakers of God
If we hold steadfast
Until the end.
And the day that God lays claim on us,
Will be called Today.
After that there will be no more tomorrows,
And all times will be now.
For with God, all times are Now.

Friday, December 11, 2009

grief poem. written Friday, December 4, 2009, in the afternoon. 1 Day Short of 1 Month.


He's gone-- he's gone!
Come back--come back--!
He's gone beyond all coming back
Those suicides of Shakespeare plays
And operas are fools
To see him again-- some day-- some day!
I must bend with the wind and endure;
To do myself in is to shut myself out.
But I wish I could die of grief,
So easy to do before penicillin,
When knocked out immunity
Quickly'd do you in...
But there is no easy relief
I must bend with the wind
And lean into the grief
I would weep--I would wail--
I would swoon and shout--
I would storm heaven's gates--
Let me in! Let him out!
But this is all vanity, all futility,
This is all chasing after the wind.
I need to learn how to live
Without my heart--it was buried with him.
He'll surely live again--resurrection
Will come. There's no power on earth
That can break our connection.
But who'll resurrect me?
I am blind, deaf, and dumb;
Sore weary, and numb.


While he is in heaven, this earth is my hell.
He's wearing his crown; I carry his cross.
We should have been crowned together
Ere he was crowned thus; but now, never.
Woe is me! Woe is me! Who'll burst my bonds?
Who'll loose me from Hades?
Ezekiel, tell me, shall these bones of mine live?
His bones shall rise, but mine are dried up;
He lives in Christ, while I wander half dead.
I moan like a zombie, while I seek my heart;
Like a ghost, like a shadow,
Crying, Where is my love?
Like a ghost who is doomed to wander the earth,
I lie down in my sleepless and empty bed;
All thy waves and billows are gone over my head.
My ship has no harbor, my soul has no berth.
Where is my love? Where have you taken him?
Tell me, that I may go to him,
And anoint him with myrrh.


Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs, bestowing life--
But I, though alive, am dead in this world;
While he, although dead, is alive in Christ;
Without harbor, without rest,
The whole earth's become my tomb,
I, the widow who never was a wife.

Have you no blessing for me, Father?
Or have you love for Jacob only?
I mourn like Jacob did for Rachel--
Three other wives, but he was lonely.


Better our parting'd been a breakup
And he'd lived 60 more years
Happy, surrounded by his children,
And me, barren with bitter tears--
I wanted him alive and happy
I wanted him, at least, alive--
I wanted him, altogether
As a woman wants a man
I loved him, with everything in me
More than I could understand
I hoped we'd always be together
Sharing a home as man and wife
Now he is gone, and I am left
With pictures, memories, lovely gifts,
A diamond necklace, a promise of more,
Before he from my side was reft--
I'd rather have him than all his stuff
Though I had all, it were not enough--
I want him only, and never can,
The world's most unattainable man...


His viola's silent now. His violin
Now sits forlorn. I cannot bring them
Back to life. I cannot play a single note.
I cannot make them sing
As he could. He could play;
Instead, I write, and wrote--
Though all my words stick in my throat.

Play, play, lovely violin! Play, viola, play!
Like me, they sit alone, untouched;
They are waiting still for him
To work his magic with his touch.
Come back, my love! Play me again!
I sit as silent as your violin.

All music sings to me of you,
Especially the lovely strings,
But none will ever ring as true
As when your bow danced upon the strings--
Come back to me! Play me again;
I'd gladly be your violin.

Reflection. written December 3, 2009, 4:30pm. Two weeks, 5 days. Share

I am reminded of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which CS Lewis was unashamed to call allegory...well if it was good enough for St Gregory of Nyssa, why not CS Lewis? It is clear who Aslan represents...he is the Christ figure in the story.

What was never clear to me until recently--but let me backtrack.

What struck me, when saying goodbye to Nelson in the flesh, was how like a statue he looked and felt. It was still my Nelson, only turned to stne. I'd never had such a reaction to a dead person before. They had always looked different to me from their live selves, sometimes enough as to seem like another person...or like a wax figure. Not so with my Nelson. Maybe because I'd memorized every line and pore of his face and his hands. I'd caressed that same face a thousand times. For the first time it did not relax at my touch, nor did he get that little smile that he would get...turned to stone. He was familiar to me, so even dead, he still looked like himself. And the makeup was an obscenity. (I could just picture him sputtering, "I'm a man! I don't wear makeup!")

It was still my Nelson, only turned to stone. His face still looked like his face, still felt like his face. The shape of it, all the pores, all its character, they were all the same...Still my Nelson, only turned to stone.

Back to CS Lewis. Lewis fought in the First World War, and grew up in an age without penicillin. He must have seen a lot of people he loved die. I'm sure they didn't use makeup on the dead then they would have looked like white marble-like statues.

So back to The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. What is the first thing Aslan does after he rises from the dead, breaking the stone table? With "Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time"--I always loved that wording--which overruled the "Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time" that he had submitted to voluntarily, that had put him there.) What is the first thing Aslan (Christ) does after rising from the dead? He storms the White Witch's castle. What has the White Witch been doing throughout the book? She's been zapping people with her wand, turning people into stone, and using them to decorate her castle. Into statues. Statues, made of stone, cold, unfeeling, unmoving, resembling who they had been but unresponsive...stone statues.

Again, the first thing Aslan does after rising from the dead is storm the White Witch's castle, which he does effortlessly. Immediately, once inside, he goes from statue to statue, breathing on them and bringing them back to life.

The White Witch's castle, clearly, is Hades (Hell/Death). The statues are the dead, whom Aslan (Christ)breathes on and brings back to life. It is Christ storming Hades, destroying death by his death...Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs, bestowing life...

Funny how I never caught that metaphor before...I must have read that book a thousand times as a child and never picked up on it.

grief poem. written Wed, Dec 2, 2009. Two weeks, 3 days.

Crushed, spindled, broken, shattered,
Trampled, splintered, shredded, splattered,
Like roadkill in some unrecognizable mat--
My heart feels--about like that.

poem written Wed., November 25, 2009. 3:44pm. 2 weeks, 4 days.


I will pour out my grief
Let no one restrain me
I will not be held back from mourning
Til it be spent.

My sorrows cannot be numbered
My mourning is measureless
It goes deeper than the deepest ocean
Deeper than its deepest trough

I seek out any words of comfort
Yes, and any listening ear
Like bread crumbs to a starving man
Like water in the desert

Two years ago, I was alone;
Nelson-less, yet not desolate.
But he filled up every crevice of my heart
My love for him to the marrow of my bones

All food tastes like salt to me
And sugar is cloyingly sweet.
I eat that I too do not perish,
For my love would not have it thus for me.

He was my strong support
He held me up with his strength
How could his strength fail him?
I fell like a puppet without strings

He was my strong support
And I hoped to bear his children
Lovely curly-haired children
With the stamp of his features

His features were lovely to me
I cold gaze on them all day long
I was happy watching him sleep
With his hands in violin pose

We hoped we would grow old together
And would see our children's children
But now you have gone before me
Into bliss, but leaving me desolate


You now stand before God with the saints,
And your lovely voice joins their chorus
Teach us to number our days
We do not know the road before us

Stop all your idiot laughter
Let all foolish babbling cease
I would rather talk to my Nelson
He's at peace now, while I'm in pieces

No noisy neighbor will trouble you now
No wretched traffic, or cellist, or anything more
As you wished, all things of God are clear now
As you worship God in his glory


We had both hoped to wear wedding crowns
And they buried my heart
Putting you in the ground
You are now past all care;
As for me, I would wear
Widow's weeds. I have none.
My clothes all have colors
And I have no funds
To clothe myself all in funereal black.
My heart wears them, however,
The whole world screams your lack.
You are with God forever
I'm without you for now--
But how long? How long?
I don't know how--
There's a future without you
That I cannot see
All my tomorrows
Are darkness to me
And today--it's all grey--
Stupid coworkers laughing
Must you laugh? Go away!
Unless you'd be with me
In my darkest hour--
Small bits of empathy
Seeing me through
And whenever that darkness
Threatens to devour,
I hear you say, "Stop. Don't do this.
Don't torture yourself.
I know that you love me
And you will get through this."


My whole road's dim before me,
My eyes do not see
My world is in darkness
I don't know what's in store for me.
The future I'd hoped for, the love of my life
Is buried, gone from me; I am never his wife.

I complain of injustice; I'd tear out my hair,
Wear sackcloth and ashes, give the neighbors a scare;
I would wail out my sorrows in loud ululations
Cut my skin, rend my garments and weep, loudly vent my frustration
Scrape myself with a potsherd; he would still not be there--
I'd give him to another, if that kept him alive--

Come back to me, love! Let's argue! Let's fight!
Your presence is near, close and comforting--yet silent
Your silence is deafening; you were never so quiet--
I want you in the flesh! Why are you not here?
I am writhing, while writing; my desire goes nowhere--
By your grave, it's despised. How am I still breathing
While you're not alive?


Why were there not more hours?
Why our measure of days
Was cut short so early
Leaves me lost and amazed.
I am tired and surly
I'm in pain, and confused
So much of my soul
Was buried with you
And what's left of me here
Is bruised, torn, and abused.

Will there be an end to my sorrow?
I will see this thing through to the end
Let no one try to stop me from mourning
You, love of my life, my best friend.

Poem written in 1910 by the Canon of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, Henry Scott-Holland

[This was shared with me by my friend David Page, who was comforted by it when a dear friend of his passed away.]

Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped into the next room.
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference in your tone,
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.

Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was,
Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It it the same as it ever was, there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near,
Just around the corner.

All is well.
Nothing is past; nothing is lost
One brief moment and all will be as it was before
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

I wrote this on a scrap of paper last Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009, at 4:42pm...

First posted on Facebook on Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 10:36pm:

I dozed off at work this morning.
Probably because I'd gotten about 2 hours of sleep.
I'd had a particularly wretched morning.
I was missing Nelson acutely.
I dozed off, but my eyes were still half-open--it was that weird state between asleep and awake.
As I dozed off, I could hear Nelson whispering in my ear,
"Shh, baby. I love you, baby.
It'll be alright, baby. You'll be alright."
Just like he used to soothe me when he was holding me, in life.
I think he knew I was missing him.
Sometimes I feel like he's very near...

grief poem. written Nov 29, 2009, 11:31 pm. 3 weeks, 1 day.

Stupid birds.
Why sing?
Stupid phone.
Why ring?
Stupid sun.
Why shine?
Of all men everywhere,
Why mine?