All posts tagged Death

The Ghost of Gangrene

Published May 23, 2013 by rlmcdermott

it moves from left to right
and calls your name

it preys and prays
and calls you to its side
to dress you dead

the sweet deliverance
of pills that know your name

the sound of your own voice
the hidden mystery of it all
to watch death is to die

codeine has the properties of gangrene

your nerves dance like hobbled ballerinas
on toes that look like blackened twigs

your spring has been a bitter season
grown sweet before its final blossoming
roots dipped in the alkali of too much love
andante-sweet dementia-praecox
is simply another word for prayer

this is the epic of your life
to die without birth
a requiem of pain
unannounced and unashamedFlower


Published May 1, 2013 by rlmcdermott

you make dinner
you wash the dishes
you set the clock
you lock the door
you go to bed

this is all about being alive
the small gestures
the unconscious acts
the slow forgetting

someone you love has died

when will love return
do you miss it more
than you miss him

even the birds are
silent in this mourning

you listen for their song

suddenly the sunFlowers

The Accident

Published April 25, 2013 by rlmcdermott

It did not belong to her,
it was not her memory;
yet, she remembers the
day–the white church with
the green roof, the sun hot
on her face, her mother and sister
lingering on the church steps,
the priest surrounded by young girls
and then the sound.

They all turned their heads,
one head on one neck,
twisting muscle, grinding bone,
turning, turning toward the sound.

It was before air bags,
before seat belts,
before soft metals
and rubber bumpers–
everything was hard.

It did not belong to her;
it was not her memory;
but she remembers–
the doors snapping open,
three white birds falling
to the ground, the open
mouth of her mother,
the blue eyes of the priest,
the smell of jasmine and incense,
a young girl screaming
and, then, silence.Communion Girl


Published March 21, 2013 by rlmcdermott

there is a wildness in flowers
that cannot be restrained

green goes to yellow
and what is lost returns
a thousand times a day

coneflowers will not obey
the rules and return as roses
in the middle of a sunny afternoon

melodies remembered
as one song return again
half forgotten half remembered

this is how I feel
where did we meet
so long ago
that I cannot forget

was I young
was I beautiful
was I full of hope

did you turn
around too quickly
leave too suddenly
stay too long
were we lovers
in a distant garden
talking of cherry blossoms
the weather
a favorite song

the flowers know their fate
they keep it to themselves
they linger by the roadside
and leave at dawn
I’ve stayed too long

I thought that I would
come again this spring
but death stepped in
and took someone too young
it wasn’t me
I stayed behind
I grieve for him

and this is what I know of life
it’s all we have
the good
the bad
are all the same

we’ll meet again
it is our fate
and like the cherry blossom tree
we’ll shed our memories
to love once more
to speak to strangers
on a sunny day
to smile to pause
and then to walk awayWildflowers


Published March 8, 2013 by rlmcdermott

I am thinking
a poem can save love
a poem can save a life

I open the book
I close the book

the man across the hall
is crying out blue words

I do not speak his language

knotted words are
tightening in his chest

what keeps the
secret of a heart

a poem
a song
a picture
folded in a well-worn wallet

who are these women
and what do they mean to him

I open the book
I close the book

not even love can save a lifeFlowers


Published December 14, 2012 by rlmcdermott

He came
air evac’d
from Camp
Red Cloud;
a thirty mile
flight seizing
all the way.

They stopped
the seizures
but could not
stop the blood–
we worked
shifts for a week

His mother came
three days before
he died. She
held his hand
and asked him
if he couldn’t stay
a few more days.

He died on my day off
when the dragon flies
low to the ground
and the ginkgo is full of fruit.

To My Father (Poem by me, Drawing by my sister Patricia)

Published June 12, 2012 by rlmcdermott

What a spring that was
the season that I spent
in the hollow of your bone.
Sweet amputee, how
do I forget those sleeping
days and the sour sweat
of death against the shining
bandage of your smile.

We counted flesh like coins
that dropped from our hands
half spent–so little did you
bleed, so quite was your death.
Sweet amputee, how do I
forget those sleeping days
and the intensity of eyes
that never left my face
except to die unchallenged
while I slept.