Japanese Death Poems

In the death poem (jisei), the essential idea was that at one’s final moment of life, one’s reflection on death (one’s own usually but also death in general) could be especially lucid and meaningful and therefore also constituted an important observation about life. The poem was considered a gift to one’s loved ones, students, and friends. The tradition began with zen monks, but was also popular with poets, whose poems were often just as solemn as those of monks, or entirely flippant and humorous. The poems are often full of symbols of death, such as the full moon, the western sky, the song of the cuckoo, and images of the season in which the writer died. http://www.quietspaces.com/deathpoems.html

The following are a collection of my own Japanese Death Poems (no I’m not nearing death…just playing):

I.

This world has gone dark
With one foot in the next
I see light, peace…your face.

II.

Dark clouds obscure the moon,
beating of my heart slows,
quiets…stills…
the open window beckons.

III.

Stark, cold branches
silhouetted against the moon
point in all directions;
choosing my next path, I depart.

IV.

Torrential river’s rush,
now a dwindling,
drying rivulet.

V.

Love, we still have love!
It remains constant
unlike this temporal body.

VI.

Whippoorwill’s call
at evening’s nigh…life
lifts gently from my
form before dawn.

VII.

Why, death is nothing!
It’s like walking from
one room to another.

VIII.

More there than here,
a sudden burst of energy
hurls you into the beyond,
much like birth.

IX.

The hiker
moves swiftly
over rocky terrain,
boulders, mountains,
but one slip and the very
ground he depended
on meets him head-on
and he’s gone.

X.

I looked around
and noticed people
aging and dying.
The belief was so
strongly embedded
that I followed suit.

XI.

Summer’s heat rising
from the pavement…
has no effect on my chilling form.

XII.

The lifeless state mirrors the deathless,
all is one continuous thread
weaving throughout lifetimes of infinity.

Routine

Routine like so
many others,
a dinner out
at one of our
favorites.

We order
and chit-chat
and my eyes
drift out the large,
plate glass window
to a figure stretched
out on a bus stop bench.

Not unusual.
Waiting for a bus.
Tired after a days work
or school, or what have you.

A woman approaches,
finds something amiss.
A police car is now on
the scene.  Mr. Waiting
For a Bus has become
Mr. Dead on Arrival.

All this taken in while
waiting for my dinner.
Life continues.
Death doesn’t wait.

Brian Miller over at dVerse Poets encourages us to tell a story: http://dversepoets.com/2014/01/23/meetingthebar-bedtime-stories-tall-tales-the-art-of-story-telling/

Be Comforted, Please

The morning dawned just like the rest
Sun so bright, gentle wind above the crest
 
But on this day, I am no more
My body gone but my soul does soar
 
I have a freedom I never knew
Be joyful and glad that I’m anew
 
I know I am missed, my voice is gone
But your memory of me is never done
 
Think of my smile and the light in my heart
Eternally enduring…never to part
 
Our smiles will merge each time you do
Twice as sweet and ever true
 
The joy I shared with those I loved
Is alive and well…a treasure trove
 
Be comforted, please, and know this truth
I do not suffer, it’s only you
 
So cry a bit and mourn my passing
But it’s just a while before we’re meeting
 
Not so long…you will see
United again, souls flying free

A long-time friend asked me to write some words of comfort for her grieving family.  Her brother and sister-in-law lost their youngest daughter in a car crash early New Year’s Day.  She sent it to the family and they wanted to read it at her memorial service.  I am so honored that my words could bring a little comfort.  I do not know my friend’s family.

Actually I’m not sure if this is a true elegy or not.  I had referred to it as such yesterday in a posting.

Elegy

mangled • fencing

Mangled Fencing; Flickr License Creative Commons Non-commercial

asked by a friend to write an elegy
for her niece killed in a
New Year’s Day car crash,
my eyes fill with tears

thinking of my elderly mother

My small stone for Writing Our Way Home’s Mindful Writing Challenge:http://www.writingourwayhome.com/2013_01_01_archive.html

Monarch

English: Photograph of a Monarch Butterfly.

English: Photograph of a Monarch Butterfly. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Her passing came as a shock to us all.  She had only been diagnosed three months before; a virulent cancer had taken her quickly.

She was known for her love of butterflies and could readily identify many that were found around her home.  Later, at her outdoor memorial, a large Monarch flitted over our heads.

Try a story in 55 words over at G-Man’s:  http://g-man-mrknowitall.blogspot.com/

In Memory of You

On dVerse Poets we’re invited by Sam to write a form poem that does not appear to be a form.  I tried my hand at an elegy.

http://dversepoets.com/2012/05/31/formforall-on-free-verse-picasso-and-yachting/#comments

Shocking grief you’ve made me lost
Alive yet dead, my heart is crushed
My eyes are lifeless..no longer see
Your visage departed, breaking parts of me
 
Distress down deep claws at my bones
Spring vining green turned withered stone
Interests declined as so did you
I languish forlorn in a world askew
 
You were my life, a radiant light
Held high aloft so my path wound bright
Wickedly clever, intelligent and quick
A candle burning with an endless wick
 
But your brilliant glow has been obscured
Consuming dissolution has me floored
Suffering madly, I feel only separation
Gone my lover, passion, adoration
 
May I forever remember your gentle excellence
That guided my nature, character and strength
Leaving me gifts that nourish my soul
Your undying goodness does offer console

Stone Flowers

Stone Flowers (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

Divided

olden southern cemetery
shadows hide your inventory
ancient oaks dripping Spanish moss
I follow a path criss-crossing human glory
 
finding delicate offerings
decades lain enshrined from crying
loved ones long forgotten despair
crumbled headstones beyond repair…whispered sighing
 
some aren’t at peace where they lay
restless disquietude displays
crypts show signs of being disturbed
oh nerves, feeling so perturbed…bring calm I pray
 
be at rest, I do beseech thee
your life has ended, now you’re free
no longer confined to this side
only a thin veil does divide your touch from me

A prompt over at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads inspired me to try a Florette Form:  http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/search/label/format%20challenge

Adding this to Poets United as well:  http://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/

Fate

unavoidable
hatchlings left unattended
empty nest syndrome

∞ 

spring budding appears
years follow years…destiny
decrees renewal

∞ 

vulnerable snake
molting skin leaves him exposed
hawk hovers, then swoops

∞ 

withering decline
weak, slow, soft, decaying breath
death gently enters

An entry for Haiku Heights where the prompt is FATE:  http://haiku-heights.blogspot.com/

Unthinkable

We leave in a sigh,
or not even that.
Breath ceases,
the shell is spent.

Maybe illness
comes before;
the body lingers,
finishing its chore.

Sometimes death
appears suddenly,
the beat of the
heart cut short
…gone swiftly.

Perhaps in youth
it visits its chosen,
we’re taken off
guard, shocked
and frozen.

Not yet!
Too soon!
We wanted more time!

We thought we had more time…

Our minds go
numb, we ponder
and wonder–why
did this happen?

It’s unthinkable…

This past week, just eight days ago, a 37 year old, seemingly healthy, mother of two young boys died suddenly in the early morning hours.  She had become ill only a few hours before her death.  She was a part of my extended family.  It left us all reeling with the shock of it and her husband, who found her,  is lost in his grief and disbelief.  We paid our respects to he and his family yesterday afternoon at her funeral and a reception afterwards at a local museum and garden.  Rest in peace, Allison… we miss you.

The Wheel of Becoming

English: The Bhavacakra (Sanskrit; Devanagari:...

Image via Wikipedia

Our individual path
weaves us in and out
but choices are ours
to continue around.

The wheel of becoming
transports us places,
bringing trials
that tests our mettle. 

There’s a lower realm
and a higher;
seek the light
or close your eyes. 

Painful lessons
bring us suffering.
Oh, to let go
and find nirvana!

We’re on this cycle
from our past karma.
To break the spinning,
we can release samsara. 

Reality is subjective;
it’s full of traps.
Ignorance clenches
the veil ever tighter.

See with clarity
through the eye of One.
No longer endless,
our births are done.

My offering for today’s Occupy Blogosphere:  http://souldipper.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/occupy-blogosphere-thursday-february-9-2012/

Only Memories…

Matane cemetery

Never to rejoin

In this earthly realm again

Only memories…


When the Moment Comes I Die

When the moment comes I die

My breath will leave me with a sigh

Ahh, at last I’ll be at rest

All trials and burdens will be in the past

I’ll be alone when I am gone–

Alike the same as when I came

This shell will be tired and withered worn

And I’ll be at peace and welcome home

The transition will be a painless one

A light will appear to guide me on

I will not fret

I will not cry

Just sing me a sweet lullaby

I’m moving from one room to another

Closing one door and opening a window

Out the window I will fly

A whisper of light merged with all there is

Some day to return to birth again

 


Another writing challenge through Victoria.  Prediction of my death.

Entry for Thursday’s Poet’s Rally Week 41

http://thursdaypoetsrallypoetry.blogspot.com/

Whose Bones are These?

Hiking along the well-worn path

always looking down ahead of me,

I spy some bones laid out neatly.

They’re tiny and delicate,

perfect in form of the animal

that once had enclosed them.

How had he died, what fate

had he faced that ended his

life upon that trail?

He wasn’t eaten, his bones

were intact, as if he had

quietly taken a nap and

drifted gently from this plane.

His remains weren’t scattered,

they rested whole and entire.

A tiny skull, rib cage and legs

all bleached white

from the sun’s blinding glare.

My mind wonders about this

tiny creature, had he a family

that missed his return?

Were young ones relying

on him for food that day

when he didn’t come back

from his foraging?

This was a being as valued

as me–with a soul and a purpose

filled with life and energy.

I wonder these things as I see

animals that have passed–all

life is precious, no one’s more,

no one’s less.


Goodbye Dad, Or Is It Hello?

My Dad died about five years ago.  Four out of my five siblings and I were in attendance as well as our mother and a few other family members.

He wanted to come home from the hospital more than anything to spend his last moments there but he was feeling some apprehension.  Finally, after my mother gently told him, “Wade, you’re dying”, he agreed to be unhooked from life support and come home one last time.  Even still, his controlling personality was in fine form as he ordered us to make sure there was some Campbell’s tomato soup for him when he got there and to go get some puzzle books at the neighborhood Walgreens drugstore.

Hospice was there for support if we needed them.

He never ate that soup or did those puzzles.  He lasted about a day, and as one of my sisters and I happened to notice a change in his breathing, we quickly called everyone to his bedside as he drew his last breath.  We then held hands, said a prayer and chanted for his soul to be free of any earthly attachments.  It was something I’ll never forget.  It felt peaceful and natural.  I am proud of the “sendoff” we had for him.

However, I think he still may be hanging around.  Shortly after he died, I started having an interesting experience.  As I am laying down getting ready to go to sleep at night, I have the sensation that my cat has jumped on the bed and is walking across it; however, when I put the light on to remove her, (I don’t let her sleep in the bedroom at night) she is not there.  I have even spoken out loud to her in the darkness, knowing that she has hidden under the bed waiting for the light to go out before she leaps out, –“Sita, how did you get in here?”  It absolutely feels like there is something “pouncing” on the bed and then “stepping” across it. This has happened repeatedly to me, only and just as I am snuggling in to sleep at night.  I had a strong feeling that it was “Dad” when it started happening and I feel no fear during these episodes.

Now, having shared this with my Mom and brothers and sisters, I have found that two others are having the same exact experience.

Hi Dad!

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