POEM: Corpse in Snow

When she saw a corpse in the snow,
fringed by a clear melt line,
she knew he’d lain there quite a while,
taking his time to die.

What’d you suppose he’d been thinking,
as breath clouds shrank to naught?
Did he wonder if death was better
when it was a fight you fought?

Maybe he was past such concerns,
and in his final hours,
he conjured into his mind a
field of spring wildflowers.

Maybe he’d moved beyond caring,
and just lie, feeling cold,
tuning into the clouds above
watching their shapes unfold.


No one could ever know such things,
so why did she so care?
That someone should, occurred to her,
was only right and fair.

POEM: A Traveler Speaks of Death

On the cusp of each journey that matters,
a mingling of wonder and fear flushes the body.

If you made the journey,
wonder outshone fear.


Death is a journey.

I can’t tell you whether it’s
-a journey to oblivion
-a journey to spread one across a web of consciousness
-a journey to be uploaded into another body
-a journey to Heaven or the Elysian Fields


I don’t know,
but I don’t have to know.
All I have to do is be ready for the journey, and

Let my wonder burn brighter than my fear.

Fateful Crossing Haiku

on a fence rail,
i saw a scorpion —
dead, but menacing

a dog nudges
its dead companion,

after life,
no one contemplates the

grasping the sword
like nothing depends upon

when you accept
that you, too, will be food,
death holds no sway

POEM: On “Walk On, Ye Doomed”

Radnóti wrote, “Walk On, Ye Doomed”
[Járkálj Csak, Halálraítélt!]
in 1936 —

Eight years before he was force marched to death by Nazis.

And I am left to wonder whether he was a prophet,
or whether the Poet’s obsession with death makes him seem prophetic.

Whether he was a prophet or not, he was true to his poem.

There’s at least 750 kilometers between the copper mines of Bor and the tiny northern Hungarian town where he was killed — a place closer to both Bratislava and Vienna than to Budapest.

Call it 500 miles on foot,
emaciated from cracking rock for copper to build the war-machinery of those trying to erase a people — his people.

They found a pocketful of poems on his person when he was exhumed.

If you can’t think of anything else to do in the act of slogging at gunpoint across two countries than to craft poems, you are not a poet, you are THE Poet.

POEM: Dancing through the Graveyard


What’s the age at which dancing on a grave switches from an adorable bubbling over of life

to a

deplorable act of petty vindictiveness?

I saw a boy — clearly in the former category — pull it off,

but I knew that if I joined in the best I could hope for was an evil eye. And the worst would be to be slapped, kicked, or spat upon.

For I long ago crossed the river of innocence beyond which lie presumptions of foul intent.

An ever-watchful Orphean world keeps me from crossing back over that Stygian river.

Oh, to live life on the other bank.

5 Melancholic Works of Nonfiction You Should Read

5.) Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl: Deep life lessons learned inside a Nazi death camp.


4.) Being Mortal by Atul Gawande: A medical doctor discusses how living longer doesn’t necessarily mean living better, and what that can mean for one’s final years.


3.) When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi: Contemplations on the meaning of life from a doctor who was dying from a terminal illness, and who succumbed before completion of the book.


2.) The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby: The story of a man who developed Locked-In Syndrome in the wake of a severe stroke and couldn’t move a muscle, save one eyelid.


1.) First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung: The title captures the family level tragedy of Pol Pot’s rule, but the book conveys something of the national tragedy as well.

POEM: My Nature, or: Water Cycle

Lay me down amid the mountains,

where the sky can call to me.

Set me under the falling rains.

Let me flow down to the sea.

I will float up toward the heavens,

and I’ll glide across the sky.

I will tour the Wonders seven

as a tear drop, sans an eye.

Rain down, run down, rise and repeat,

cycling to the end of days,

feeding plants and beating the heat,

heeding the summons of sun rays.

Long vacation in a glacier.

This is just my human nature.

Death Haiku

scorpion corpse
sitting atop a wall
why die there?

vultures circle
i give them wide berth
they’ve yet to choose

ant-swarmed mantis
i thought you a leaf
do the ants know?

fresh flowers
mossy flush-set headstone
unseen, not lost

the potter’s field
out near the back fence
closer to the world

5 Beautiful Death Poems


5.) In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

excerpt [2nd stanza]:

We are the dead; short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.


4.) Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas

excerpt [1st stanza]:

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


3.) Because I could not stop for Death (479) by Emily Dickinson

excerpt [1st stanza]:

Because I could not stop for Death –

He kindly stopped for me –

The Carriage held but just Ourselves –

And Immortality.


2.) To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time by Robert Herrick

excerpt [2nd stanza]:

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,

The higher he’s a getting,

The sooner will his race be run,

The nearer he’s to setting.


1.) Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye [authorship disputed]

excerpt [opening lines]:

Do not stand at my grave and weep.

I am not there. I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glints on snow…

POEM: Stone

someday someone will stumble on the stone

a stone outlasting skin and bone

a stone surface pocked and mossy

though once it shone polished glossy

brushing off letters worn shallow

on a stone face bleak and sallow

rendered so by nature and time

twins spoiling all not in its prime

they’ll read a name with bookend dates

and be shown they hold a common fate

should one become legend and myth

you’ll still not outlive your monolith