16 July 2017

Ode to Frequent Dying




I die again and again.

"You're killing me" “I could just die”   "I'll die without . . . . "
The idioms of quick death flow through us like cartoon characters who, 
crushed and flattened, peel themselves off the pavement with a pop 
and go full steam ahead, still fuming, having learned nothing.

I’ve slipped out of worlds—sometimes before I know I will—
leaving relationships, quitting jobs, changing my faith.  
And this latest death.  The one where a brother acts like I am dead, 
and I finally agree to die, to live without him.

I’ll tell you what this dying is like. 

First there is trying to duck under the pain of becoming 
the flattened Road Runner.  Or Coyote.  Victimized or defeated villain, 
the crushing feels the same.  

And then there is peeling up and floating above—not embodied
suspended and looking down at yourself in that situation.
Up there you are cut off, adrift, a shell of a boat with a useless anchor.  

Dead.

And then there arises (like a lump in the throat) a desire to live again.
Re-entry hurts like a short PING if you get up and walk away,
but like a very long slow FIRE if you think you’ll stay and try again.
Fire.  Embers, then ashes.   
Eatable.  Wearable.
If you become part of the pattern, if you choose to re-anchor 
instead of hoisting sails and flying 
or simply floating away.  

There is loss either way--loss of limbs and organs.
Tears fall, but for no reason
if you have been blessed with forgetfulness.

In these frequent deaths it’s hard to tell where the blessing lies.
Is it in the experience before dying?
The dying? or the resurrection?
For me, each has had its poetry.





Poets United Poetry Pantry #362


My blog poems are rough drafts. 
Please respect my copyright. 
© 2017 Susan L. Chast




20 comments:

Donna@LivingFromHappiness said...

I hadn't realized I held my breath while I read of your latest death....lump in throat unable to breathe....I have almost been there....but oh the pain in the dying.

'In these frequent deaths it’s hard to tell where the blessing lies.
Is it in the experience before dying?
The dying? or the resurrection?
For me, each has had its poetry.'

Your last lines gave me breath and life again Susan as I read them shaking my head yes, yes...each a lesson and a blessing....

brudberg said...

Love this... all the dying we have I would guess that we are like cats, with more than nine lives... The dying of relationships are the worst though... but resurrections are possible.

R.K. Garon said...

Very interesting perspective and well described.
ZQ

Aurora said...

Love this stanza:

"I’ve slipped out of worlds—sometime before I know I will—
leaving relationships, quitting jobs, changing my faith.
And this latest death. The one where a brother acts like I am dead,
and I finally agree to die, to live without him."

And this:

"Tears fall, but for no reason
if you have been blessed with forgetfulness."

Mary said...

This is a sad poem, Susan. So many kinds of dying. But indeed the dying of a relationship - especially if it seems there is no way to save it - is a very yard one. What to do? Allow it to die and move on. Fight for it and hope. Either way these deaths really hurt...and yes, we wonder sometimes, what blessing there is in the experience. And whether it is only practice for the real death we all face.

indybev said...


I hardly know how to respond to such angst. I have an anonymous quote in my book of quotes that's meaningful to me:
"When you feel your faith has failed you, all your hopes and dreams are gone ... listen for the angel voice that whispers, "Just hold on".

april-pad-challenge-day-12 said...

I relate to this, almost too strongly to find words. You've hit a deep note inside of me. That isn't a bad thing. It helps to know that others have been through similar experiences. Thank you,

Elizabeth

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Wow, this poem really hits me, as it talks about something so real, and painful, when a sibling does not see who we are, and a relationship flounders. A very moving write, Susan. I love that each type of death has had its poetry.

Thotpurge said...

Oh my Susan..I just love this poem..every line. I want to write a paragraph about each line..but have just bookmarked it so I can read it over and over. I feel you just gave voice to things I've thought so often about. I use that cartoon flattening reference in conversation a lot, but could never have written it so beautifully into a poem. Thanks so much for this.

Wendy Bourke said...

The nuanced perceptions that you have shared here, are fascinating and wise. Family "stuff" can get so complicated so ... in your face ... in your heart ... elusive ... hurtful ... and on it goes ... though you've conferred a bit of clarity in this piece, that really hit home, for me.

Martin Kloess said...

A thought provoking poem. What is death, really? 147 funerals performed and I still don't know. (and there's the question: is the me of 40 years ago still alive)

Old Egg said...

I think my first death was losing a girlfriend but after many desparate months I realized I was still alive and other breaks in friendships or trust seemed not as bad and I would recover from them. A person would have to be very fortunate not to experienced trauma that was life shattering but it is how we recover from those experiences that is so much more important for it is but one of life's many lessons. Your poem Susan is brilliant, because it affirms that so well.

Sumana Roy said...

Frequent deaths definitely promises resurrection. We're being reborn every moment with our words. Poets need these deaths to go through new births of light. Whew! Sooooo love this one!

gillena cox said...

A lot of dying goes on in our living, indeed. Well done and I Luv the fact of each carrying it's own poetry

Wow!

Thanks for dropping by my Sunday Standard

Much love...

Julian said...

There is loss either way--loss of limbs and organs.
Tears fall, but for no reason
if you have been blessed with forgetfulness............ Such a strong poem you've written, I liked the excellent use of cartoon characters.

Brendan MacOdrum said...

What else to do in poetry but love and die? Cessation is more powerful a state of attainment; depictions of hell are baroque compared to hazy heaven; yearning is one thing, dread is another. But death invades everywhere, doesn't it, its Reaper vibe dressed in everything from surprise endings to TV shows to sexual climax to shunning brothers. And all that before the real dying begins. Perhaps before the real loving, too. Fun and engaging assay here, esp. the cartoonish morphing/resurrection to go on with the investigation.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

This is so touching.. the pain, the tears that sting and the quiet strength that follows is so palpable in your verse. Especially like; "In these frequent deaths it’s hard to tell where the blessing lies. Is it in the experience before dying? The dying? or the resurrection? For me, each has had its poetry." Beautifully penned.

Kerry O'Connor said...

There are certainly many ways to die before one's death, and rejection is one of the more painful.

annell said...

Dear Susan...your poem touched me deeply, as I am still in the process of dying. You spoke the words of my heart. I think the death of the body, would be easier, than the death you describe. The death of your poem can take a longgggggg time. the very thought of it stuns the heart. I think the only thing that can be done, is to know yourself, and wait. You will be there when needed.

colleen said...

I love the idea of frequent deaths. You give me so much to think about. The part about the brother really struck me deeply.