Category Archives: Are no Stranger

poems, oddly enough, about death and dying

Death, You are No Stranger

Dr Lorne Harold Olson, my Dad Dec. 1 1941- Feb 11 2014, captured with a fisheye during Festivus, a few years back.

Sometime, as a child
A great uncle, a small suit
Staring into a larger hole
Remembering the smells forever

Sometimes the adults
Something about a black-and-white film star
Or a relative from Norway,
an Auntie from Ireland

Decades wrings life from hard years
Rambling into scenarios of loss
Some who wander are lost
Or get lost, indifferent to finding
Living with absence of fear

Once the guns report
Bullets smash into metal
Skimming past your flesh
You are not in charge

Delicate as we are
Sympathies are few
One by one
They leave

Vague words confuse and deceive
Deceased, passed on, gone
Kindly refrain from mentioning
A celestial birthday

We have no knowledge
Nor choice
Speculation is exercise
For the nervous and ill-informed

Resist the temptation to grieve and bereave
To celebrate & console
Death knows only the past and the future
There is no present tense
Just pain, from time to time.

Hard enough just to eat, brief, sleep, live
They are gone
Perhaps they loved you
Perhaps you loved them
Do not wait to know
There is no answer
Only absence

What legacy do we dream?
Laborious hours of tasks for others
Spawning our own creations
Brought to life for joy and for pain

Or to be warm in the coldest winter
In a land of endless foggy summer
Where the sea reaches out beyond comprehension
and airplanes magically appear from over a dusty hill

Or you, painted jolly with tankard
Hung above the fireplace
Books that open
on a mantlepiece

Or interred in plywood and white
Or abandoned as ashes
Or fertilizing knowledge
Through scalpels and agreements

##

I hold his tiny yellow bald head
Listening to the wheezes
Stopped 3:23 AM
“You must wait one hour to declare”
I clean his chin, lay him down
and close his eyes and mouth

Life in this instant is instinct
And survival
and gently sparing others
From grief and uncertainty

The four stand in a line
On cue, rain falls
We stand til the end — holding on
and watch them shovel and sweep

Then, you might collapse,
you might imbibe, you might justify,
you might pray out
to an imaginary friend

##

One by one, They leave
I remember each
Not for nostalgia or grief
But admiration unspoken

The rough one in leather and muscle cars
and bad decisions, I eagerly complied
Tiny pills at curling rinks
Fights and VW escapes at gas stations

Shaggy haired blonde guitarist
Talked to me like I mattered
13 rosy-cheeked and eager
In green mac jacket like his

The artist, far from home
Often confused and disappeared
Often singing about lusty ladies
and mad experiments in super eight

Long haired city sailor
Young retired from coding
To activism and discretion
Dominos with friends, aneurysm, the end

Ole Gramps and his 67 countries
Nicotine turns to morphine
Me and Uncle Walt
Read him to sleep

Meanwhile in Alabama
The sudden sadness comes, followed by
Deceit, struggle, reprehensible actions
and a litany of notary stamps

Both of the hasheater’s parents
The kind one went to cancer
The blue one, the hard way
I only remember kindness of both

No stranger to hospitals
The doctors’ eyes show bewilderment — and fear
They confer, they draw, they poke
They cannot admit confusion

##

The tsunami warning rings Tuesdays at 10
Would you run? Trampled by the eager and prepared
Or stare the waves down
Twitching legs and bleeding heart

Floods and fires, cold wind and water
Prepare yourself they say with portions and schemes
Or will you choose the present
Leaving sympathies for the past and the future

Do you think you have a choice?
Are you so noble to sacrifice
Running to save the small or the old
With adrenaline and action in your arms
You cannot know
Until the moment of despair

Or will you wait and avoid?
Never consider
Then perhaps
You will be truly
Surprised.

Troop us Away Then

Ready for marching orders.

Troop us away then!
We’ll follow in the full moonlight

“Your dossiers are in order”
says the leather glove
for the shaking ones,
a speech to strengthen

Gird up! We exchange
breathing for heartache
until we’ve all had enough or rather
someone calls a stop for the day

Fight for a freedom
which never arrives
Never is expected
and always promised
So no one’s disappointed.

Alchemists Confer with Hypnotists

Varying days
of bliss and malaise
I’m busy these days
chasing dubbies away

When the ache nears
the break and
light becomes a haze
your soul is so faded,
no hiding, so worn

The alchemists confer
and deny the hypnotists’
clinical opinions.
Retorting, “He simply needs
more magnesium
injected into his bones”

The past life regressions
of painters, loafers and pirates
offer no evidence –
only barroom stories
when envisioning a distant yourself

Consider generating kinetic watts
from my broken soul,
frantic heart and coiled brain.
Anxiety — i’ve plenty to power
all of Iowa — roller rinks and all.

Between night and light

the space between
night and light
when bats dive like
fiery planes

battles over borders
foggy lines on faded maps
drawn by someone else
away for reasons
forgotten, arbitrary
false

rusting wreckage
overgrown by by jungle vines
reclaiming tools of sadness
seeking a final vestige of dignity
from deathly, slow grip

woodpeckers clamouring
waking bats firebombing
until sunrise


Lk Crescent 2004

Observed

Thick pineapple rain whipping
winds twisting leaves
and homeless blankets
wet while walking past
yellow in fleeting glances
holding breath for quarantine
peeking though humid windows

Bruised from the Tallest Place

Flugelhorn weeps along with wheels on rain
Pennies won’t derail a train
but might cause a bruise
when dropped from the
tallest place you’ve ever seen

Cemetary Afterall

Terraced footsteps
hills for wooden stairs
cobbles arranged by someone
slip slip into graves
candles burning flowers wilting
an empty space next by waiting
averting gaze from blackened hood mourning someone
for 30 years
or maybe el Papa since yesterday