There are two important things for full success in life: 1. Don't tell everything you know. ~Albert Einstein

Friday, January 31, 2014

Lines Past Death

I sat with my Uncle all day the day he died. That was Saturday, February 1, 1992. These poems greeted me when I brought his ashes home to Southern Oregon a few days later. He had mailed them to me from Portland the day before he died, Friday, January 31. In the accompanying letter he  wrote, “All I need is a chance at a new peace”. He died the next evening with me sitting by his side, our faces touching, breathing together. I’ve taken the liberty of calling them, “LINES PAST DEATH”.


The two were dressed in black, in what seemed like rented clothes.  They went to the man in the next stall, be still, is all I could do.  The man had died.  They took him away on a palette covered with a royal maroon cover and deposited him in a long station wagon.  So he passed his time, in a setting of principles.  No more to be seen.  Only the rented costume comes to mind as I write.  THAT was a fancy way to leave his guest.  Like a disappearance. 


evergreen and birch trees and a small bed of roses…low evergreen shrubs and a lawn on either side of an entrance walk.  Crows scan the higher branches and frighten other birds.  The distance cold alerts one and the winter sun tries to subdue the body’s alarm.  Still, it is day, and we have the whole affect of nature to subdues us    and bring peace.


A stalwart, winter day,
seen through the vibran
escapade of voices,
leaves me to wonder at the meaning left behind.
enlivening the shadow of this,
puts the mind at ease.
Where the January sun causes
steam to rise from the grass,
enfeebling cold fingers more.
To move is a mundane project
of prospects made whole
by the failing man seeking
to encase the situation
into something respective to itself.
Cold out, he said and felt in his pocket for the next phrase.
Only metal sounds and the body thrusts viably to taste the cold air
circulating on its tattered edge.


sit well – and sleep well,
‘til all these things stand still.
The existentialist needs somewhere to go.
incidental to the truth.  how depressing =
stay. and see if you like yourself.
cold are the winds of January.
grey, dull forces of winter, cleansing of the topical mind;
male and female appear to take away the body of summer.
You go – I’ll stay, adrift are crows, caw-ing in the twilight.


After some few weeks of silence, I long to show the contour of such meanings as could survive a hallway of elders and a nursing home; lunch.  The fittest apothegm means to be oneself elsewhere, and neglect to conclude what this does.

Leave the tray a while.

Why eat all the time

~John Chance, 1992

Note: The word "vibran" is Haitian creole for "stirring".

Saturday Night - elegy for Uncle John


Roy said...

The existentialist needs somewhere to go.

Were you the favorite niece?

asha said...

I love that line.

Yes, I believe I was. He was only nine years older and lived with us for awhile when we were kids so he more like a brother to me than an uncle. He had a sad life being alcoholic and, maybe, schizophrenic or, at least, in the third stage alcoholism. But he was a wonderful fellow. I always miss him and lament his suffering.