Tag Archives: death

Lord Lazarus

With apologies to Sylvia Plath

I don’t know when I came alive again

Like the first two times
It was sudden, frightening
Bloodshot eyes blinking against pitiless light

I wish I could say I saw God
I wish I could say I came alive
Baptized by Brother Bartholin
Sanctified by Saint Skene
But I was born again as a rusting machine

No blank slate baby
But a beast with a function preordained
Meaning baked into the mechanism
Symbols in the skin

I am no phoenix bursting forth into flame
But a corpse clawing its way out of a grave
(If there is a fire here
It is only because someone somewhere lit a candle for me)
(If there is a fire here
It is only the smoldering core of a world I consumed
An ember in my belly, a spark in a tomb)

But even the dead can walk, and so I do
I rise with grunts and groans, aches and moans
I rise with sweat and steam, snarls and hisses
I rise in an anxious chorus and refrain
(The notes come pouring from me like blood)
(I am leaking song)

This third life may be new, but memories endure
Even if nothing else does
And even the dead can want
(Born of black magic, I want ritual)
(Born of symbolism, I want gesture)
(There is faith in the ritual)
(There is love in the gesture)

In proximity
In lip meeting lip
In hands entwined
In fingers tracing patterns on skin
In pulled hair and sighs
In blood
In bites

I love you, like God
I do
It was my last thought before I died

But I have been buried so long
And now I’ve come alive


On Having Turned Thirty Without Killing Myself

I have joked about suicide with the
Tastelessness of an overcooked steak, charred
Like a body burnt in the wreck of a
Car (the logical end result of nights
Spent drinking and a brain that backfires and
Bristles in the presence of speed limits)

Had I died, the real killer would not have
Been the bullet but the decisions that
Put me in the path of the gun, the sheer
Hubris that has often found me waltzing
‘Round a battlefield wearing a target
(I have kissed the lips of cliffs, flirted with
Fire, run cars red, toasted to broken glass)

But if I have let my laugh echo down
The cavernous depths of a barrel, I
Am grateful no monster emerged therewith

There are mountains unconquered, stories to
Tell, women to love. My work is not yet

Cube Dweller

In between long bouts of looking at nothing, staring unblinking

Into the void and listening to songs that were old when I was young,

I am thinking about our deaths. We work together to put names

To our fears: gun, knife, the inevitable entropic decay of

The universe. (‘Tis a consummation to be devoutly wished.

Doing nothing is more freeing than pretending to do something.)


Brother, I have been there:

Laid low by the world,

Prostrated at the throne of an absent god

Without even the wit to wonder

Where it all went wrong


Brother, I would be there still,

Would take every contusion

And ache and regret with a smile

For the way she picks you up

When you fall

The Answer Was Wrong

Wrong. Life isn’t a mystery,

But there’s no strategy guide.

You’ve got to figure it out

Yourself, use your best judgment,

Make the best you can with what

You have


But sometimes things are refreshingly

Direct. Sometimes the bad guys

Howl curses, scream for blood,

Sometimes Death is ten feet tall and

Swinging its scythe with both hands


One way or another, you learn fast

Which windmills you can tilt at

And which ones really are giants

Not-So-Random Writing Prompt 17: By Age, By Sickness, By War, By Justice, Pt. 5

John blinked back tears, his eyes stinging and wet. Then, someday it will be?

All things, living and unliving, seen and unseen, have an appointed time when I will call and they must answer. Rivers run dry. Rocks grind to dust. Stars blink out of the sky. The heavens spread themselves so thin that no piece of them will ever talk to or know another.

John’s tongue caught in his throat. Then, there is a higher plan?

Death did not stop its endless work, but it turned its bony head to face the man. There was something beautiful about it then, John thought. An exotic dancer telling a story with their hands, a soothsayer weaving an incantation. A plan. There is a plan, and that is the most beautiful thing of all.

All mankind is of one author, and is one volume. When one man dies, a chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language. Every chapter must be so translated. Some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice, but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all your scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another.

Then, our suffering improves us? The things I have seen, they are good?

Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except that you get nearer and nearer your home by it.

Then, that is the plan?

Death looked at John a moment longer, then turned away from him and back to its work. It must be. It must. Else, what is the point?

The End! Come back Monday for something new!

Not-So-Random Writing Prompt 17: By Age, By Sickness, By War, By Justice, Pt. 4

Death saw everything. Everything. But it did not need to see to do its holy work. It simply knew what to do and when. There was only one thing to do. It and its brothers had each been appointed a single task each, and Death oversaw them all, ensured that their vices and their indulgences all had the appropriate outcome. They destroyed and they sickened and they starved as they saw fit. Sometimes they worked together, Pestilence developing some new disease for War to turn against its prey, Famine greedily following as War cut a bloody swath through lands that should have been fertile, Pestilence turning its attention towards crops that should have been productive and giving them over to Famine’s insatiable appetite.

But though they ignored Death, they served its machinations. All things serve Death, it knew, and Death served all things.

Even John, fallen to his knees, tears welling in his eyes, mouth agape at the horror before him, was served by Death, it knew. But this was not the human’s appointed time. And a good thing, too. There was too much to do to trouble itself with a single life seeking dissolution before its appointed time. Its brothers swept the world, driving men to kill each other, women and children starving in the wake of the fighting, disease festering in the corpses that lay strewn upon the ground. It moved its many hands, and like a conductor leading a grand orchestra, it pointed and it gestured and the people fell.

John wept.

Silence, please. You’re distracting me.

The words drew a gasp from John, echoing inside his head, turning his thoughts into a flock of shrieking birds flapping desperately away from their roost. If his half-choked sobs had distracted this demon, this spider of bone harvesting the world with its many terrible limbs would surely destroy him for daring to speak at all. He waited in silence for his annihilation, but Death paid him no mind. But why

It is not your time.

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