Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 005

Some of you may remember me mentioning my baby brother is a storm chaser. Apparently, NBC contacted him to star a reality storm chasing show for this fall season. While these things can always fall through at a moment’s notice, he’s currently in the process of filming. So imagine the irony last night when I unintentionally drove under a funnel cloud last night on my way home from visiting with my sons. As I pleaded with the funnel to not touch the ground, I could imagine my brother’s possible fall show’s ratings skyrocketing as his older brother is killed by a twister–the weird things we think when our lives are on the line, eh?

Anyway, my close encounter with death last night has influenced today’s prompt. I want you to write a poem about your own death. You can write as if you are already dead; imagine what dying might be like; explain what happens after you die; etc. The main thing I want, though, is that you focus on your own death–not someone else’s.

Now, here’s my poem for the day.

“Mortality”

My uncle was alone on his land when
his heart stopped; my grandfather alone when
he fell over; my friend was alone when
deciding to lay across the train tracks,
that it had gotten to that point. When I
am alone, I am terrified something
horrible is rushing my way, something
searching to give me my special time when
the end will fall over my story, when
my heart’s soundtrack will stop, or even when
I will move on to that next something. When
the birdsong rushes back from the south and she
calls out my name, I know my something when
will wait until the end, until tomorrow.

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83 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 005

  1. Jorgen

    Sorry. Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face.
    I am from Cuba and learning to read in English, give please true I wrote the following sentence: "Posts.. Authors.. Last post. Hours agodiscusiongrandfather clocks, wall clocks, cuckoo clocks, mantel clocks, mantle clock, desk clocks, quartz clock, hermle, ridgeway, discount clocks, german clocks."

    With love :-), Jorgen.

  2. Rodney C. Walmer

    Sorry posted the wrong version, this has some minor corrections.

    When I’m Gone

    What will they say when I’m gone
    probably just throw a party and move on
    perhaps they’ll discover my poetry
    through each they might find a minor piece of me
    Funny, how through poems we
    might realize our own mortality.

    These poems will be my legacy
    I can only hope
    they will help to make the world
    a better place to be

    And at the funeral
    will the mourners even bother to show
    what will be said
    while I lay there in that casket
    cold and dead
    where will I be,
    or dare I even ask it
    will all that is me
    simply go to the grave
    or am I destined for some great eternity

    Through my children
    will they remember me
    or will they simply see
    what has been

    One hundred years from today
    will my writing still be around
    or will my memory simply fade away
    will others at least look down
    at what I had to say
    in attempt to write in a better way

    Science tells me energy can never die
    so, in that sense, nor can I
    but, the essence of what made me, me
    will be gone for all of eternity. . .

    ©Rodney C. Walmer 5/20/08 inspired by the prompt for Week #5, write a poem about your
    death.

  3. Rodney C. Walmer

    When I’m Gone

    What will they say when I’m gone
    probably just throw a party and move on
    perhaps they’ll discover my poetry
    throw each they might find a minor piece of me
    Funny, how through poems we
    might realize our own mortality.

    These poems will be my legacy
    I can only hope
    they will help to make the world
    a better place to be

    And at the funeral
    will the mourners even bother to show
    what will be said
    while I lay there in that casket
    cold and dead
    where will I be,
    or dare I even ask it
    will all that is me
    simply will go to the grave
    or am I destined for some great eternity

    Through my children
    will they remember me
    or will they simply see
    what has been

    One hundred years from today
    will my writing still be around
    or will my memory simply fade away
    will others at least look down
    at what I had to say
    in attempt to write in a better way

    Science tells me energy can never die
    so, in that sense, nor can I
    but, the essence of what made me, me
    will be gone for all of eternity. . .

    ©Rodney C. Walmer 5/20/08 inspired by the prompt for Week #5, write a poem about your
    death.

  4. Susan Bell

    (Better late than never. I’m playing catch-up.)

    Is That It?

    Is that all there is?
    I look back on what I’ve done,
    what I wanted to do, and the
    question comes to mind.

    Is that it?

    There has to be more. It
    can’t all be over for me.
    I meant to do so much.

    Could I have been happier,
    more confidant,
    smarter?

    Is that it?

    I want a do-over.

  5. Maureen

    The Day I Died

    No-one stopped the clocks
    or cut off their telephones
    (why would you want to stop
    contact with the living?)
    The sun set
    moon rose
    stars shone.
    In fact,
    not many even noticed
    that I had died.

    And I didn’t
    ‘rage against the dying of the light’.
    I just stopped breathing
    that was all
    and the Earth
    continued to turn …

    Maureen Sexton

  6. S.E. Ingraham

    Jane – not the sad parts but a surprising amount of the rest of it has been semi-auto-biographical in one way or another; glad you read, enjoyed and commented.It means everything. Thanks, Sharon I

  7. Lorraine Hart

    Looking Back

    I remember escaping
    through dilated eyes
    as my body died,
    I left it there,
    I let it lie
    empty of essence,
    a vessel dry
    while I flew
    eight hundred feet
    straight up in the sky,
    skimmed the places
    I’d never been,
    watched the unfurled
    world fly by till
    welcoming depth
    of the coming night,
    sweet slipstream dream
    when my body died.

  8. Anahbird

    Sorry I’m late. This week has been crazy. Was gone for a while attending a local writing conference, btu I actually ended up writing two poems for this prompt. The forst one was when I sat down to write it. The second one came out several poems down the line and fit the topic, so I thought I’d post it too.

    Darkness

    When it is all over
    And my body
    Has breathed its last
    What will happen?
    Will heavenly visions
    Float my way?
    Or will it all end
    In darkness?
    Or worse yet
    The cessation
    Of existence?
    It is hard to
    Comprehend-
    The total
    And complete
    Lack of being.
    The silence of
    That voice in your head
    Which speaks even while you sleep.
    No thoughts.
    No consciousness.
    No dreams.
    And no way to know
    What once was
    Is no more
    Because you are no more.
    It’s a scary thought.

    “Go for the Light”

    The chill cold creeps
    Up my body
    From my furthest
    Extremities;
    Fingers, feet
    And nose- for some reason.
    I can feel
    The chill cooling
    My body,
    Stealing my warmth
    As it spreads.
    Freezing.
    So cold.
    Can’t feel my feet.
    My life for a blanket.
    Darkness crowds in,
    Starting at the edges and
    Pushing back the light.
    A tunnel of sight
    Surrounded by darkness.
    “Go for the light-”
    someone says quite clearly.
    “Don’t tell him that!”
    someone else says.
    “I don’t want him leaving us.”
    Darkness wreathes the light
    In a pulsing aura
    Pushing futher and further
    Towards the center
    Until the light fades away
    In a dizzying darkness
    And I sleep.

  9. S.E. Ingraham

    Ah Jane – that was a good one – and so right on, I must say…I used to think I wanted to be scattered after my cremation but my kids say I’m already scattered enough now. (I wish I had enough of a will to cut them out of, the little darlins’ – kidding.) Really, I just wanted them to be able to play Linda Ronstadt’s "Keep Me From Blowin’Away" while they tossed the urn’s contents. Ah well, you’ve given me some other worthy ideas.
    Thanks, Sharon I.

  10. jane

    I have to precede this with the explanation that Michael is
    my "life partner" (boyfriend is such a tacky word at 60) who
    I love beyond measure.

    To my children in the event of my death…

    1. NO ONE is to look at me after I’m dead. That means no
    Viewing – no last good-byes. If you didn’t say good-bye before
    I died, visit my grave and say it then.

    2. I want to be cremated. It’s kinder to the earth – it’s
    cheaper (which means you each get more money). It also saves
    me from spending eternity in a blue chiffon dress.

    3. Don’t scatter me. Bury me. There may be someone who
    forgot (or was too busy) to say good-bye. I wouldn’t want
    to rob them of the experience. (See #1)

    4. Things. If you did as you were told years ago, you each marked the back of anything you wanted with masking tape with
    your name on it. Those things belong to you.

    5. Anything musical belongs to Michael – the CDs, the
    stereo, the piano, any other musical instruments – they are
    his – not yours.

    6. The bills are yours.

    7. You may visit my grave – or not – your choice. If you never
    see my grave, that’s fine with me. (I’m really not there anyway)

    8. If the three of you fight or argue over ANYTHING that I
    leave, I’ll haunt you forever.

    9. There is a small savings account for each
    of the grandchildren. Make sure they get it.

    10. If you need me for anything, I’m as close
    as your nearest thought.

    I love you – forever and beyond.

    mom

  11. Linda H.

    Last as usual. Therefore, I wrote these very quickly.

    The Feeling of Death

    Sometimes I wonder what
    those final moments
    in a body are like.
    Does one feel light and free
    like a leaf floating down
    a calm stream?
    Or is it more of a
    weighted feeling,
    a release,
    like sinking into the
    couch cushions after
    a tedious workday,
    then drifting off
    to sleep as the
    television plays on?
    Perhaps one experiences
    a rush of sensations
    as the phantom carousel
    spins the fragments of
    a mortal life
    round and round.
    Or maybe people just go
    numb in an instant,
    an abrupt
    stop
    of all mental
    and physical capacity.
    I may be a fool to ponder
    such notions
    if the feeling
    is beyond my current
    realm of perception,
    a feeling so heavenly unique
    that not even the
    world’s greatest poet
    could describe it.

    Rebirth

    When it’s my time
    to leave this world,
    I hope my guardian angel
    will mother me
    like a newborn child,
    wrapping her celestial wings
    around me, gently cradling me
    as she sing a tranquil song,
    serenading me into
    peaceful slumber
    so I can awaken
    in His kingdom
    to live in eternity.

    Wondering Why on my Journey Home

    I tried to keep the engine running
    but it was beyond my control.
    My battery is dead.
    Now I wait to be taken home
    and I wonder why.
    Not why the journey has ended,
    because I’ve had my fair share
    of joyrides along the way.
    Not "why here?" or "why now?"
    because when the celestial
    headlights shine in one’s direction
    there is no turning back,
    no detour possible.
    I don’t even question
    "why me?" because I know
    this is no accident,
    this is the hands of Fate
    taking the wheel.
    The why I ponder
    as her sullen face
    nears my casket
    is "why her?".
    Why should my precious
    girl lose her mother
    before she is a teenager,
    before she even has the chance
    to take her driving test,
    before she becomes a woman?
    Why is her planned route
    mapped to travel this bumpy road,
    the huge pothole smack in the middle
    of the road?
    Why, God?
    Tell me.
    Why?

  12. S.E. Ingraham

    This is getting to be a habit – posting more than one poem per prompt…

    Mourning Chill

    Chill she was the bitter breeze of mourning who casually
    Lay claim to my unsuspecting soul, so simplistic in nature
    Both soul and breeze conspired to obstruct the slightest breath or
    Beat of heart, or pulse, or firing of any of brain’s lonely synapses
    As they stood sentient, or so they felt themselves to be
    But were, alas, imposters even unto each other, never sensing
    Their rot had long begun in early times and cell-regeneration
    Was merely theory, like global warming or world peace
    Unproved, untried and certainly unlikely
    Cobwebs of confusion knit together with half-remembered thoughts
    Until a melange of such terrible beauty had me wishing for
    Some order, some relief – even if that meant, the blackness of
    The blankness of – oblivion – the unknowing void just there
    And then just beyond –surely there be restful release at last.

    S.E.Ingraham

  13. Lorraine Hart

    My dear compadre Earl…venting through poetry has to be one of the healthiest things going…and you do it well. Even with differing opinions…I’m honoured to work beside you.

    Isn’t it funny
    how fearful
    death makes us
    while we want
    nothing more
    than a good
    sleep.

    This is only a drive-by visit…look forward to a good read and some work…erm…soon…life keeps derailing my train of thought….

  14. Amy Barlow Liberatore

    DEATH

    Pain
    Pain again
    sinking into the hospital bed
    anitceptic antemortem
    lifted to the stretcher
    lifted into the ambulance
    lifted onto my own bed
    in my own room
    my own home
    Valium, crushed between silver spools
    dropped in a crystal glass
    mixed with juice, sipped into a plastic straw
    and syringed into my mouth by I don’t know who
    The raw pain of simply swallowing
    Lifted
    lifted out of my pain
    to a place of love
    beauty
    golden, effervescent wonderment
    Lit up – like a disco (but without the coke)
    Safe inside a glittering ball of all the knowledge
    of all world’s good and evil
    I can deal

  15. Karen

    Dead But Alive
    6-6-08

    My body lies in the coffin,
    closed per my request.
    Those left behind smile through tears.
    Someone sings,
    as I wished,
    “It Is Well with My Soul.”
    Because it is.
    And they know where I am
    And Who took me there,
    Holding my hand in His gentle one.

  16. jane penland hoover

    Mortality

    The day held by the regularity
    of minutes, one following the other
    none retreating or competing
    only constant motion
    round and round
    until the crash
    broadcast
    the giant cedar had been struck
    and was falling down and down.

    None of those surrounding
    could impede enough
    arrest the loss of this one
    now vacating its ground
    anchored there so long, now
    exposing the midnight sky
    above
    the forest floor holding
    this one that would not see the
    the lake-blue sky of morning
    light coming with the dawn
    to grow those still standing, their
    time not finished running down.

    Jane Penland Hoover
    June 6, 2008

  17. jane penland hoover

    Mortality

    The day held by the regularity
    of minutes, one following the other
    none retreating or competing
    only constant motion
    round and round
    until the crash
    broadcast
    the giant cedar had been struck
    and was falling down and down.

    None of those surrounding
    could impede enough
    arrest the loss of this one
    now vacating its ground
    anchored there so long, now
    exposing the midnight sky
    above
    the forest floor holding
    this one that would not see the
    the lake-blue sky of morning
    light coming with the dawn
    to grow those still standing, their
    time not finished running down.

    Jane Penland Hoover
    June 6, 2008

  18. Jay Sizemore

    Facing the abyss

    the silvery steel kiss
    of smooth metal against skin
    holds all the scriptures
    of the unknown
    in its black, tongue-less mouth,
    a key to the door
    of oblivion’s womb,
    wrapped in a copper sheath
    and poised to deliver
    a portal through the brain,
    a gateway
    to the dot
    at the bottom
    of the question mark,
    skin peeled back
    like the petals of a rose,
    browned around the edges
    where the blood has congealed.

  19. Joe

    a revision…sorry. i think this second last line works better

    The Past

    I’m past revenge,
    it took its’ toll on me
    I’m past rejection,
    it did not define me
    I’m past the anger,
    hurt and pain
    of loving once,
    but never again
    Life was a mystery
    It never made sense
    But I’m past trying
    to solve it

    I’m past tense

  20. Joe

    The Past

    I’m past revenge,
    it took its’ toll on me
    I’m past rejection,
    it did not define me
    I’m past the anger,
    hurt and pain
    of loving once
    but never again
    Life was a mystery
    It never made sense
    But I’m past old age,

    I’m past tense

  21. Rosemary Nissen-Wade

    My Death

    The tunnel, the light,
    the rushing wind,
    the dim shapes glimpsed
    as I glide past;
    emergence into a garden;
    the feeling of love
    from a being of pure radiance …
    no, perhaps not.

    Becoming one with all that is,
    merging into the great
    consciousness of God,
    attaining full knowledge,
    full being … nah,
    save it for later.

    Heavens and Nirvanas
    don’t entice me;
    let me rather fly
    airy, light and free,
    able to move in an instant
    to deserts, oceans, islands,
    cities, mountains, waterfalls …
    let the world be my eternity.

    5-7/6/08

  22. Deb Hill

    6/5/08 #005 Wednesday

    Wasted Fear

    I have Fear . . .
    down
    right
    Fear.
    Not of dying –
    I’d expect that.
    The Fear is for the how.

    You see . . . I
    have not discussed
    M o v i n g
    o n
    with the dead or living.

    They’d be upset –
    me leaving
    all that paper work.
    They’d have to do it.

    It will keep them busy –
    as they
    lay me
    to rest.

    REST! How, when where?
    D a d d y, N a n a M o r a . . .
    Is it . . . R e a l l y . . . you?

  23. Carol A. Stephen

    The End of Dreaming

    When I reach the end of dreams
    I shall write letters to all my friends
    Thanking them for the gifts of time
    They made to me.

    I shall take down all my hats
    And place a wish in each,
    Then give each friend a hat
    To remember me by.

    I shall write down all the dreams I had
    And how they ended, good or bad.
    I shall let go of all failed hopes
    And write an end to every unfinished story I began.

    I shall lie down on a bed of silk and velvet.
    Close my eyes and start my final dream.
    I will not waken,
    Life will finish with the end of dreaming.

    Or does a new dream life then begin?

    Carol A Stephen

  24. SaraV

    Falling

    It would be so easy
    Looking over the edge of Half Dome
    Or the Grand Canyon
    Or Bryce
    To just lean a bit
    Farther
    Cast myself into space
    And join the ravens
    Kiss the breeze
    Swirl with falling leaves
    Dropping down down down
    I’d open my arms
    As the ground approached
    And embrace my favorite place

    #2
    It’s Okay

    I have led a life
    Full of good things
    Good love
    Good Friends
    Good Family
    Good Pets
    So it’s okay
    If I go now
    Before my knees really go
    Before my fingers tighten so
    It’s hard to type or paint or weed
    I’ve had all the time I need
    So its okay

  25. Shirley T.

    Call Back Tomorrow

    I have no problem pondering
    my inevitable demise. Just. . .
    Well, just not today.
    It was a long white winter,
    And today is green and gold.
    The only wind is the wake
    of bird whistles, calling to
    come bathe in its fresh
    blossom scent. It’s time
    for a tryst with wandering.
    When Death does come calling,
    I know I’ll be at home to greet Him.
    No hiding under the bed
    pretending no one’s there.
    He’s a skip-trace expert,
    not to be ignored, who always
    gets his payment for whatever
    time you’ve borrowed. So
    for today I’ll keep my date
    with spring’s new whims.
    Then, if He does come by,
    I won’t be found idle, waiting
    for the devil to fill my hands.
    ###

    Way of the Fox

    Having met up once or twice,
    I think my best advice,
    When the Hunter next comes ’round
    Is just go quietly to ground.
    ###

  26. S.E. Ingraham

    Buying the Farm

    What to tell them, my nearest and dearest
    Now that I know my own time is about up
    We, who have joked about this event of events,
    And laughed at expressions
    designed to cover its inevitability
    We, who have championed most of the sayings
    some of them purportedly
    with regional or occupational origins, like,
    “He fell of his perch” or, “She slid down the curtains”
    These from my Scottish friend’s repertoire;
    A nurse, she also favours, for the near-dead,
    “Ah yes – it will be soon now – she’s circling the drain…”
    Others of us, more plebeian, or even just prosaic, I guess
    Tend to go with the more common idioms – your basic
    “kicked the bucket” “croaked” or “drew his last ”
    And sometimes feeling the need
    for something more formal,
    we occasionally bow to the bard and use
    “shuffled off this mortal coil”
    One euphemism we all concur is silly
    and not to be tolerated is “passed away”
    For some reason, this one bothers the lot of us

    Now, presented with my imminent departure
    It’s harder than I’d contemplated, facing up,
    as it were, to my own mortality
    I find myself flipping through
    the file-cards of expressions
    Searching futiley for the words
    that might adequately describe
    What is about to happen to me,
    in terms acceptably gentle enough
    to allow the sharing of the news
    Sharing with – with my family, my friends
    – and as it turns out, with myself
    The shutting down, the ending of,
    the termination , the finality
    There is just no getting around it,
    no shrinking back from it
    No pat phrase to soften the reality
    or blunt the ragged edge of death

    The words the doctor slung
    so casually at me,
    landed like land mines and
    wait now like the explosive
    devices they mimick
    Not buried all that deeply
    in my murky sub-conscious
    With no small amount of trepidation,
    I tiptoe through the phrases
    he’s tried to leave with me
    “Fourth stage, inoperable, fast-growing…”
    So matter-of-fact, as if he was
    giving me a shopping list
    or something equally mundane
    I must have asked, how long,
    or maybe not,
    maybe he just went on,
    “Three months tops, more likely six weeks,
    get your house in order”
    I remember thinking that was the best
    – “get your house in order”
    Given that I don’t own a house,
    and even if I did,
    there would be no order,
    I’m quite sure

    Odd, disjointed thoughts flit
    through my mind
    as I drive home
    There was a song about
    this very predicament…
    “Live like you were dying” ?
    Yeah – I think that was it – hell
    – I’ve already done most of the things
    the song advises;
    the sky-diving anyhow,
    and I really can’t see myself
    riding some mechanical bull,
    even if he does have
    the capricious moniker, FuManchu
    But I get the gist,
    I find myself thinking absently.

    Right about then,
    I hear a siren behind me,
    glance in my mirror
    and see flashing lights
    I pull over to let
    the emergency vehicle blow by me
    It’s a cop actually and not only
    doesn’t he flash by –
    he’s pulling me over – what the –
    The cop is way tall and looks young;
    he is. I realize as I roll down my window,
    I have shoes older than this young man
    “So, do you know why I stopped you maám?”
    He bends down to look at me
    and surveys the inside of the car.
    Since I have no idea, I say,
    “I really have no idea officer,”
    I am respectful
    – he is the law, young or no,
    but I must sound as puzzled as I feel
    “Are you alright maám?
    Have you had anything to drink?”
    I know he is well-meaning but ,
    I can tell, he’s about
    to ask me to get out of the car;
    I’m not sure I can stand that.
    “No – not drinking,” I say quickly. “Why?”
    “You were doing twice the posted limit,”
    he says, all business now.
    “I’ll need to see your licence and registration.
    Speeding – is that all – I was speeding?
    I was a tad preoccupied, I have to admit.
    “Sure, no problem,” I am babbling
    as I hand over my vitals,
    but I can’t shut myself up.
    “I’m so sorry sir, I don’t usually speed,”
    This is not strictly true
    but I need to keep talking,
    to tell someone my news.
    “I just received some bad news and
    must not have been paying attention,”
    For a moment, I think
    he has stopped listening to me
    and is just going to
    go back to the squad car
    Abruptly, he leans down again
    and looks at me carefully
    “Bad news?” He sounds genuinely interested,
    his warm brown eyes are sympathetic, I think
    “Yeah,” I feel myself gathering my courage,
    getting ready to try out my line,
    “I just found out I’m going to buy the farm.”

    S.E.Ingraham

  27. Joe

    End of Time

    I’ve always wondered what it would
    be like to die
    I’ve always tried to imagine an
    unending sky
    ever since I was a little kid
    I ‘d close my eyes and all I could see
    was the universe filled with stars,
    and the Earth drifting off in the distance
    Then I’d reach the point where I’d think
    life has no meaning
    and I’d wake up screaming
    because I couldn’t comprehend
    the end of time
    It’s this dark place in my mind

  28. Adeleke Adesanya

    My Last Will

    It doesn’t matter how or where
    Or when I take the final breathe
    All that will matter is my last will,
    Half dozen sundry personal wishes
    That I need to write because
    Where am going the dead don’t talk
    And this one thing I want for sure
    Please take me to the crematorium
    Through the fire for a last bath
    Let the flame lick me till I am clean
    Let flesh and blood and bone devolve
    Let dust be reprocessed back to ashes
    Till, full circle, I am one with the beginning
    Just another Spirit blowing in the wind

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