Perplexed by the passage of your passing;
the path you have chosen not to complete.
Death, that easy option, that ever-lasting
expression of nothing more than defeat.
Through your dangling obituary death speaks:
“dirges from the book of unfinished works.”
No songs of joy, hymns of praise; sadness shrieks
through a minor key, morbidly it jerks
at the heartstrings, tugs a discordant wrench;
pulls from mortality a cheap reward.
Never was the thirst for life given quench
through the cut and thrust of a broken sword.
. Rest – that which remains of a life unspent.
. Rest – that which contains all of life’s content.
© Tim Grace, 19 July 2013
To the reader: In his case, suicide was an ultimate escape; a cynical determination. A deliberate departure from life’s course; one he hadn’t travelled well. Alongside a list of other broken relationships I suppose suicide was just one more; consistent with his self-absorbed character. There were no indulgences he didn’t crave and feed to the detriment of others. Eventually his ‘smartness’ wore thin, and so he resorted to ever greater forms of obliteration; the final one rubbed him out.
To the poet: I’m sure he had many redeeming features. I knew of none. As anonymous he has become the particular avenue of my general vent. In his truncated life, I wasn’t allowed the last word; the attention-seeker makes no sense of that. But now, with his last move made it is my turn to speak. The poet’s obituary can be harsh… who bears the burden?
Once again, death rejoices a new grave,
a soiled-over body, a buried soul;
welcomes The Dead (Le Mort) to Hades’ cave;
adds a fresh bag of bones to its countless toll.
The spoils of victory entombed, encased
in a casket of clay, in wet mud drenched,
dispirited, disposed of, laid to waste,
laid to rest in pieces; so long entrenched.
‘So Long’ farewelled, given back; dust to dust…
But listen, through the dirge, the Angels sing.
‘Hark’ the Angels sing (as so the Angels must)
“Where, Oh Death, is your victory, your sting?”
. Through nothingness Death must surrender all,
. beyond nothingness – Eternity’s call.
© Tim Grace, 22 March 2013
To the reader: He was 94 at death. An Uncle. An only son. An alcoholic… a troubled soul… a widower with children… a mechanic… a reformed alcoholic… a preacher; a man who found redemption. At life’s end, a man who had travelled a long and arduous journey of self-discovery. An adored father… a revered brother… a soul at rest; freed of Death’s sting, for “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11: 25-26).
To the poet: This sonnet is a layered interpretation of one man’s passage through, and beyond, the doors of death towards eternal peace. To begin with, words rattle with visual references, “but listen” (at line 10) calls upon a new register of interpretation: “Hark the Angels sing”. The dismissal of Death as an ending in itself (1 Corinthians 15:55) takes the sting out of life’s terminal destination. At Death we join the countless dead and become at last united with one collective spirit… so the story goes.
Sadly, one certainty of life is death.
And so, it is for all of us to end.
Somewhere, there awaits our final breath.
Inhaled, not for exchange, but to expend.
This breath, of all breaths, is to be remorsed.
It’s the breath most wasted and least returned.
Consumed for the purpose of life’s exhaust;
of continuation, it’s least concerned.
Somewhere, then, this final breath sits in wait…
to be swallowed deep but not ingested.
This breath has destiny; a half-used fate;
incomplete, resolute, uncontested.
. But for one-breath, we have life’s abundance.
. It’s through this-breath, that we meet redundance.
© Tim Grace, 3 February 2013
To the reader: Not breathless, simply exhausted of life. It’s the last breath taken and not returned. Delivers a terminal solution. The act of living is respiration. Recycled air; a generous spirit. Acts of goodness get taken for granted. We begin and end our lives with a gasp. Air is a rich and abundant resource. Not a trivial keep-worthy trinket. Not to be held for longer than needed. Its living purpose is spent and renewed.
To the poet: In ‘to the reader’ I collected together eleven sentences loosely connected to the topic of breath. Each sentence is ten-syllables long and follows on from the previous; but it’s not poetry. The difference has something to do with a missing thread of consciousness. The thread of poetry is tied by the poet and un-ravelled by the reader; one gives the other receives … together we breathe the spirit of art.
Early in debate, two sharp points were made.
Succinct as a dagger’s thrust; both cut deep.
To be driven home, each decisive blade
was further twisted; blood and guts did seep.
The angles of intrusion were acute;
on passage, both knives parted flesh from bone,
lanced the stomach, and punctured lungs on route.
They came to rest, rigid as steel in stone.
As life bled from the wounds (of both soon dead)
those in witness stopped in forensic pause;
thought upon the motive and so agreed:
“Death came to pass upon a common cause.”
. For those who debate, agreement is death;
. a sign of weakness … such a waste of breath.
© Tim Grace, 14 October 2012
To the reader: I worked in an office where heated debate would often culminate in furious agreement. Two staff-members with fiery temperaments would constantly joust and parry over common ground. For all in witness, it would have been far better these two pedants had opposing views of worthy substance. Alas, and instead, the two argued over detail and finally arrived at a consensus; long-since agreed by all else half-concerned by the menial matter.
To the poet: “What of two minds that claim a single thought?” The two subjects of this poem are in dispute; literally. Are they the two sharp points, are they the two daggers; then again, are they the two adversaries? That subjective confusion is deliberate in construing an investigative pastiche; a crime scene of sorts. As required of this genre, a confused subject needs a vague objective; and so the plot thickens. What’s the remedy? A strong couplet that solves the riddle.