Tag Archives: death

(Poetic Farewell to) Ole Dead Gramps – Postcard #72

(Poetic Farewell to) Ole Dead Gramps

Paying poetic respects to recently deceased Grandpa in a rainforest with Walt Whitman, Charles Baudelaire, Chief Dan George and original works inspired by the globe rambling, oddly charming, big fish – while official funeral happening elsewhere. Originally recorded: May 13, 2006

Sit on a tree by the river: (Poetic Farewell to) Ole Dead Gramps – Postcard #72 (83MB stereo 192 mp3 1:00:05)

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Wildflower (for Foster)

Words by Dave Olson with Mikael Lewis written in Pokhara, Nepal
Music, vocals, guitars Mikael Lewis, recorded in Utah, USA

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Wildflower (for Foster)

Foster can you tell me
where the hell you left those tapes?
I was riffing on my first guitar
you were mouthing poetry scapes

I’d go to visit your gravesite
but I’d hate to waste that precious hour
you don’t belong in flat mown lawn
when you are a wildflower

Recorded in my parent’s basement
our earnest, green, unflinching truth
unaware that three short years later
you’d be cashing in on your youth

Don’t need to pour one out for you
or leave a fat one rolled
I’ll just light the signal fires
To make sure your story is told
The tale of the wildflower

I ignored their useless platitudes
self-serving, cliched and quaint
You and I both know what the truth is
And so I share this brief lament

I visit you atop the mountain
Where freedom lives and truth is found
When morning light first hits that meadow
I’ll have proof that the wildflower lives

April 1 & 2, 2017
Words by Dave Olson and Mikael Lewis
Music by Mikael Lewis

 

Crust of Pumpernickel

Crust of pumpernickel
Reminds me of Mom
Though the reason for this
Escapes my deserted mind

Was it the flood from teenage trips
Across the soon-sprawling suburbs
To a German delicatessen
With rare meats and names too long
For my young tongue?

However, noting
Tongue is available
By t
he pound or
Even an entire kilogram

 

Preserving the Wildflower – Postcard #69

pfgb-wildflower-sm

What becomes of the seemingly ephemeral creations we leave behind? Especially in the analog-days?

Consider these in the context of missing cassette tapes made by a now departed poet/activist/scholar Foster and guitar-ing Mikael, who recorded spontaneous youthful riffs in parent’s basement in Utah. In this postcard, Mikael  Lewis sings “Wildflower (for Foster)” written by Dave in a clinic in Nepal, then adds some more verses, spiels and a poem called “Occasionally Free” – with lightning, rainstorm and crickets chiming along.

Catch lightning with Preserving the Wildflower – Postcard #69
(25MB, 14:22, mp3, stereo)

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About Being Stabbed in the Forehead (1990)

His Part:

I’m lying in bed and my wife is stabbing me in the forehead. My skull is hard and bony so she uses a rigid dagger and a mallet to chisel it through. This is a peculiar way to die but I am coming to grips with it. I figure it’s good to accept and come to grips with things, so I am focusing and channeling my energy.

I yelled at first but now I am into steps three and four, repression and denial. I don’t think I’ll make it to overt anguish, I hope not anyhow.

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Lonely Cold Water Flat – Postcard #66

postcards lonely cold water flat-sm

Life in hotels, wandering alone and often blue and then the death of friends all converge in a series of poems including a song by Mikael Lewis about waiting for love in a Victorian hotel. Then, from the streets of Rome with a cappuccino comes a series about departed Rod H. Ash, including “Time Traveller” plus poetic riffs name-checking Charles Bukowski, Audrey Hepburn, Pete Best, the Fitzgeralds, Vatican’s Swiss guard and the post office by the Sistine Chapel and desert campfires.

Walk upstairs for: Lonely Cold Water Flat – Postcard #66
(13:39, 30MB, .mp3, stereo)

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Dad’s Malibu Super Sport – Postcard #65

Dad's Malibu Super Sport – Postcard #65

When I was growing up, Dad often spoke of his Chevy Malibu SS – his favourite car.  So, while on his death bed, I asked him to tell the story. He speaks about acquiring the vehicle, the budget, the deal, the financing terms and oh, also about the car and how he enjoyed having a reliable and cool vehicle as a young married man creating a life, after growing up poor in Regina, Saskatchewan, then heading off to BYU in Utah. The story is interrupted by a nurse bringing lunch and news. He died 10 days later.

Indulge me by listening to: Dad’s Malibu Super Sport – Postcard #65 (78MB, 12:08, ,mp3, stereo)

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Hi Mom, One Year Gone…

mom-card-close

Nov. 27th 2017 Mountain Time – Nov. 28th 2017 in Galle, Sri Lanka

Hi Mom,

Well, the date came around today. Its a foggy number for me as I was so far elsewhere in the “tomorrow” time zone and also took the brothers a couple of days to track me down to deliver the news so I actually had to look at your obituary to know exactly which date was the day.

The date shouldn’t matter and I maybe should be “unattached” according to the Buddhists or doing the whole “she’s in a better place” crap which frankly I don’t believe in – maybe there is an after-life but we have no proof and only folktales augmented by the spectre of “faith” to go on – so to me, whether there is or isn’t makes no difference (also, who’s to say this isn’t the “after-life”). Oh and to the faith of my relations, I don’t want a whole planet to “manage” if it means I must supervise wars and disease and disasters, anyhow I digress… to me, the only salient aspect of memory I feel and care to share is simply “I miss you”. That’s all. And, I want to, aim to, and am keeping your memory alive in a very tangible way.

You have no marker, your body is still at University of Utah Medical Center, used by a little squadron of medical students and there’s maybe an engraving of your name on some associated memorial wall in SLC somewhere – we ordered it, filled out the form but don’t have evidence of actual existence.

mom-program

Of course, there’s your sons and friends and grandkids still roaming around but your stories will fade if someone doesn’t keep the tradition alive. With this in mind, I post photos of you and about you, on the Internet so folks can click a button of acknowledgement, drop a few words, etc. – but to me, this isn’t all of what’s needed. With your love of genealogy – or rather the research of the stories of ancestors as they are rather than just a list of data points to perform unrequested ceremonies upon – and your interest in findagrave and tending to headstones, I want to put a stone somewhere with your full name, birth place and date and same with death, just for the “Lauralees of the future” who have the same interest as you to dig into the stories of the past.

Continue reading Hi Mom, One Year Gone…

Tribute to Grandma – RIP

Granny Selling Candles for Bright Idea Company
Granny Selling Candles for Bright Idea Company

My my the days go by, and we all chase the light.

90 years is a long time by any measure. Tis a statistical outlier who lives so long, with wit and sanity (mostly – aside for grudges and prejudices) intact no less.

As it goes, my final grandparent – my maternal grandmother, Isobel Steele Bannatyne – passed away on Saturday. She was in Indiana and will be buried in Logan, Utah (or nearby anyhow) where many of my kin live.

Shall i travel down? My first thought is “of course” but then i realized, i am weak, weary and while full of love, i am low on tolerance for emotional expression. I am raw from the past year(s) and am scared to take steps back by pushing myself. I talked to doctors who advised me to put myself first. I don’t come naturally to this. I am strong in the clutch and reliable in challenging circumstances. I was there twice last year after swearing to never go again after a visit before Grandpa died. I gave away by VW bus, my bicycles, my art so i wouldn’t need to return. I did. Twice.

“I am not needed. I am OK meditating and celebrating in my own way” – this is what i am right now.

There is an obituary but it describes someone i don’t know. My kin are religious folk and this colours the narrative of their lives. Eclipses everything else, purposely. These ways are not mine. Death can provide context for healing rifts or death can be the spectre of chaos and mistrust within families. I’ve seen both very recently.

To my hundreds of cousins, uncles, aunts, Mom, et al. Hold each other as needed. I suspect it will not be needed. 90 years is a long time.

To the rest of you, above Grandma as i remember. Sometimes in the 1970s, at a craft show selling my Mom’s candles at some craft fair. I was the frequent sidekick and candle maker and these times make me happy. Before i knew of tension caused by beliefs, intolerance – there is no judgement or blame. It is me.

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For the record: Here’s the obituary for Isobel Steele Bannatyne as published in Logan (Utah) Herald Journal.

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

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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.