12 August 2014

Robbing Death

American Robin, photo by Dakota Lynch

Robin’s sweet mockery is ended
his suicide gone viral overnight
and yet my lawn is still tended by
his namesakes’ search for food and delight.

Seeing them, I am in Robin-land
again with the animated genie
of Aladdin, seeing in art an
image of his vocal dexterity.

This is new, this identity of
robin redbreasts with the comedian—
I rarely identified with or loved
his characters’ opinions and means.

But, his death is new, too. It's making
me want reminders of him as if one
of his own students in the filming
of The Dead Poets’ Society.

His character was wrong to deliver
ecstasy with no authority, to
approve endings as if humans were
essays, to lead in and not to undo.

For me, also sixty-three, he is
too done.  It is too soon to find hopeless
illness, to deny aging its run, to
choose to die rather than to live lifeless.

When it is my turn will I robin?
Will I line up with other early birds
to ease death, to catch this prize worm in
a water glass and drink beyond words?

(One of my two BFFs says not to be surprised as those of our generation continue to choose this way out.  But I will be surprised—not judgmental but surprised.)

Posted at Poetry Pantry #214, where you can see photos from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by Kaykuala.  

Copyright © 2014  S.L.Chast


  1. Oh Susan, this is so powerful. I pray our generation will not choose to Robin. Thank you for writing this.

  2. it floored me last night when my friend texted me and told me...
    so many memories around his movies for me....
    dead poets was def an influence...

    and ironically deals with suicide as well....
    i am surprised....i hope i never am not...

  3. Deeply felt, Susan. I understand the depth of peoples' pain, but sadly death is such a permanent solution. I am saddened by Robin's death - and love the picture of the Robin that accompanies your poem, and the lines about the real ones searching for worms. I hope I will always live towards the future and continue to consider aging a privilege and a gift. It is worth it just for the sunsets alone!!!! I am just finishing Miriam Toews' All My Puny Sorrows which deals with suicide brilliantly. A wonderful read.

  4. Robin Williams' death rocked me to my core, Susan, because I love some who share his bipolar diagnosis; and I understand that, after years of instability and illness, the living may no longer be worth the battle.

  5. His sudden death (by suicide) shocked me too Susan ~ I hope we will never forget that there's help and love outside when we need it ~

  6. Reports show that suicide has been increasing since the turn of the century among middle-aged (white) men. A shocking, but not surprising turn for me. Thanks for visiting the post, Susan ~

  7. a shocking death indeed but hope no one walks his path...

  8. your opening verse speaks the thoughts of so many, he will be remembered in many hearts

    have a nice Sunday

    much love...

  9. Ah! I love your reference to the robin of your garden (I have one too). How hard it must be to live up to other people's expectations, be defined by the screenwriters' lines when really all one needs is space to be true to self.

  10. i was so sad when i heard that he died... he was an excellent actor but suffered heavily from depression i think... Dead Poets’ Society is one of my fav movies as well

  11. This shook me to the core. We always wonder what pushes a person over the edge of no more... but what would push us? And what would we do if standing at the edge, with strong wind on our back, the threat of pain if we turn, and the promise of freedom is we jump?

    The end of this man's life has put so many thoughts in mine. And your poem has stirred each and every one of them.

  12. I think Robin Williams' death was a wake-up call for us all. I guess we all have a choices in life, whether or not to allow agings its run being one of them. It seems he suffered a lot more than we know. In life he entertained, and in death he taught lessons.

  13. My impression is that depression is a painful illness and one that still is not fully understood. Otherwise the likes of Robin Williams would die peacefully in their beds.

  14. powerful thoughts and i can taste the empathy, death is always so sad and never meant to be, you have captured this very well.

  15. Good grief! Your message was powerful enough for me to think about Suicide as the "unforgivable Sin," then I relapse into modern, evolutionary times of forgiveness, understanding, sadness, and SO be It. We have discovered the province of Judas as necessary to fulfill the prophecy. So we did have to hang him, without regret. Despair and it's causes are the things that are regrettable... as we dissect our values.
    None of this is directed at anyone... just Thanks for the platform to express my view, inspired by your writing.

  16. Deeply felt this one Susan--I think we all do

  17. When you refer to the robins in your garden I suddenly remember that Nursery Rhyme.. Who killed Cock Robin.. with the last stanza

    All the birds of the air
    fell a-sighing and a-sobbing,
    when they heard the bell toll
    for poor Cock Robin.

    seems very appropriate ,,

  18. I may never look at another robin the same way after this well-written, thought-provoking piece.

  19. This was such a sad loss..Robin rip..

  20. I am saddened as well. I do hope the generation won't all fly the coop; there is life after 63 (at least one hopes)
    Poignant piece Susan

  21. Back again from the Pantry and got even more out of it this time.........yes, surprised. If I live to be eighty, there will not be enough time. I fear going sooner, still so much to write, so many sunsets to see. Not ready. And while I have huge compassion for Robin and what he was going thru I keep thinking of how differently Michael J. Fox accepted his diagnosis. Mind you he isnt bi-polar. It is a hard road, and so many brilliant people walk it. I got a lot out ofthis poem, kiddo. Both times.

  22. I was saddened by Robin's death. I hope it will bring awareness that help is available to ease the pain. Your poem is courageous in its stance. Thank you for sharing your hopeful view, Susan, and what a beautiful image of the robin.

  23. One of the problems of loving actors is whether you love the characters they play or the skill of the person playing them. He entertained us in everything he did even the dark "One Hour Photo" so it was a surprise that he couldn't act his way through this too. Instead he was just like us and chose to be as we always imagined him to the end.
    Thank you for your words Susan.

  24. Very interesting and thought provoking post. I am never surprised when anyone attempts or commits suicide. After all humans are not kind loving creatures to live amongst.They are mainly indiscriminate killers by nature. Help comes often too late for those in trouble and is just a band aid effect.Strategies need to be put in place at the educational level by developing a a philosophy which enables one to survive at a very very young age.This could solve the bipolar problem to a certain extent as well. Living in a secular, materialistic society is also a contributing factor to suicide, drug addiction and crime. No too often one gets a meaty poem deserving a lengthy response. Good one Susan !

  25. Such a difficult issue. Made me think of my mother-in-law, 94 years old, in a nursing home, relatively healthy but her mind is pretty much gone. And of course myself. Aging is annoying me. Increased medical needs, awareness of different foods - giving up many I loved, threats of illness (recently a biopsy had to prove I still don't have cancer). What will I do in the event of an illness that promises more and more loss of physical abilities? Maybe the future will surprise me. Very good write and perspective Susan. Thanks.


I want to know your responses, favorite bits, associations, suggestions, and etc.. Thank you for visiting and letting me know you were here!

(Note that I moderate comments before posting them, so you will experience a delay.)