Tuesday, June 24, 2014


image borrowed by bing


“There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers;
that is a fairy tale for people who are afraid of the dark.”
--Stephen Hawking.

When you’re a kid,
                     death is just a game you play
                     when it’s your turn
to be the Indian, & your Cowboy friends
                     empty their finger guns & cap pistols
into your gut.

You grunt, groan, & moan,
                 grabbing your imaginary wound
as you go to your knees,                  flop over backwards,
twitch a little,       close your eyes,          hold your breath
                 and get it over with. 

You go to your first funeral
when you are thirteen,
wearing your church clothes,
as your uncle,
who hit a telephone pole while driving drunk,
lies waxen & ashen in his attractive coffin,
looking like a discarded department story dummy;
as the weeping & wailing seems odd
counterpointed by the humorous testimonials. 

You are in your early twenties
                 when you mother dies
                                 before she was forty;
death being assisted by demon cancer,
                                 & this time the copious tears
are your own, & the testimonials
are not funny.

Before long,
           you are thirty-something,
                        & friends, cousins, grandparents
                                         & nephews all die.
You become accustomed to grief therapy
                        & the trappings of ceremony,
                        finding yourself looking forward
to the food served after the service--
                        joyfully celebrating a life
versus being overwhelmed
           by lamentation & loss.

Death becomes the pink elephant
in the yard,
in the room;
difficult to ignore,
a tedious demanding companion now--
no longer that occasional drop-in visitor,
an annual or semi-annual guest; no,
it is incessant, unceasing, always there
in your peripheral vision--
whispering, cajoling, begging;
look at me,
acknowledge me,
respect & fear me;

Simply inexorable, inevitable,
a dark destination with a shadowy depot
                              that every traveler one day
                              must pass through;
so in defense of your fragile sanity
                              you begin to earnestly study
                               the thick tomes
of hope,
of faith,
of physics,
of philosophy, & one magical day
                          the fear is nearly gone, replaced
by shimmering exuberant alacrity
                        & logic, as you
are comforted by          cosmic truths,        past lives,
                             quantum theory & metaphysics;
as you passionately postulate
                        that the fuck-stick of Death
                        is just another doorway,
                        a transitional portal--

that soul energy can never be, is never
extinguished--that although
your damaged husk
                        will have to be abandoned,
like a broken, rusted, inoperable machine
that your caring loved ones
                         will crate up in preparation
                         for cremation
                         or internment,
& you will be aware of their sadness,
   you will be mostly occupied with
                bustling about the dominion of Source,
                making decisions about
in the vast Spiritual Realm
                 you will be posted next,
for you prove to be a strong swimmer
in the cosmic currents
of the Continuum. 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets

Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?


brudberg said...

So sad once when we accept death to be a regular visitor.. when we look forward to the food after the service.. but maybe it's part of the healing...

Marina Sofia said...

Death is a thankless, cruel visitor indeed - and the reason why humans have always searched for more, for answers, for alternatives, for gods. A very philosophical poem and mood, Glenn, thank you for digging deep.

Claudia said...

i remember my gramma died when i was about 13 as well...then my dad when i was 17.. it is tough and death is not a guest we want to invite into our lives... have you ever read the book thief by markus zusak where death is the storyteller - an awesome book - one of the best i read in years

Beachanny said...

Exactly! Nothing in the universe is lost, simply re-arranged. You have clearly passed through the portal of death's fear and come to recognize that life is an arc and its duty to understand, to give, to create, to love! Beautifully said.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that was emotion all over the page there, Glenn. There are some snapshots in my life that frequently demand my attention - the wake after my grandad's funeral with all the Christmas decorations and cards mixed in with 'In Sympathy' cards. The beautiful, glorious summer days of my grandma's funeral, the sunburn I got in the quadrangle at the hospital, when taking a break from watching over my Dad, waiting for him to die, the yet again glorious hot day of my Dad's funeral... the seasons are no respecter of the 'fuck-stick' of death....

Brian Miller said...

i lost all of my grandparents by the time i was ten...i knew death fairly early...even visited the grave of the brother that would have had my name at an early age...it does not make it easier...maybe you even come to expect it even as we deny our own...i guess too eventually we come to terms with what comes next and realize death is a part of life....

ayala said...

Sad ...losing my parents brought me to my knees. I thought that I knew how it would feel...but when it happened my world was shattered.

Grace said...

I like the changing viewpoints of death & funeral ceremonies ~ Like yourself, I see death everywhere now with relatives falling prey to the dark shadows ~ I admire the realization that its only a portal, a doorway to another destination ~

Cheers ~

Victoria said...

Some of us are at the age when we start losing our peers. Yesterday, a cousin. I'm in that stage where I read the obits to calculate the percentage of those my age or younger. Yikes.

Unknown said...

I followed the path with you in this one, Glenn, thinking about my grandmother who passed at 99 and my father-in-law who lived to 93. They were lonely for peers in their final years.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Glenn, you have written my thoughts exactly.......Death does come oftener......and we become more aware of our own coming nearer. I love the idea of bustling about the new dominion checking out our next assignment. Cool! Very sad about losing your mom when you and she were both so young. That is really hard.

Kathy Reed said...

The succession of events in your life have given you a keen understanding of death and dying.....you wax poetically of all the possibilities, that death is not the end of it all. After the questions and postulating, the light of the soul is never gone, and therein lies our immortality , to see all the rooms and feel the love.
Great write.

vivinfrance said...

Glen, may I keep this to re-read? It contains many truths - some palatable
some not.

sharonlee said...

Emotionally intelligent and deeply moving.

Sumana Roy said...

a whole document of truth...the last phase is beautiful and healing...

Mary said...

I think we all have a related story with regard to the experiences of death and dying in our lives. My first funeral was that of my grandmother, when I was 6 years old. My mother had me kiss her as she lay in the coffin, which is a memory I wish I did not have. I think one of the most difficult deaths for me was when my last aunt died. That mean I was 'officially' of the oldest generation on both sides of the family. I appreciated your reflections, as always, Glenn. And I do believe that death is a doorway as you said.....and that something good will be in store on the other side.

Anonymous said...

My biggest questions at this time of life... all those of the immaterial realm.

Unknown said...

brilliant experience, Glenn. I say that because your writing is more than a poem on a blog - it moves into the heart of the reader/listener. I attended my 1st--and only--funeral (so far) at 13, as mentioned in the piece. It wasn't for a blood-relative, it was for my grandma's husband; I grew close to him, so it was a devastating moment for me. I cried when my aunt called at 1:00am telling my mother he passed away. I thought that was all the grieving I had to give. But, seeing him in a coffin struck me, and I broke down as I held my mother's hand. That was the moment death became more than getting "play-stabbed" with swords in the front yard.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I love the intensity that flows all the way through this and the various views from various stages of our lives.

Anonymous said...

I am always reminded of the old Carlos Castaneda books - death is always a shadow just beyond our left shoulder...

Powerful once again Glenn

Anonymous said...

Death was slow making its appearance in my life -- distant relatives, friend of a friend -- then it was everywhere at once, taking young people from very close by ... One does get habituated to it, accustomed to the round (the grief therapy): and I've gone back to the Mysteries too, to Lascaux & Co. for if not relief, a wide enough mental background to absorb all the tears and bleeding. One does become less shrill about the losing, though its never not raw. And the paradox of the dying is that the living is sharper for it. Very much enjoyed the read, well told and drawn out toward conclusions which are unanswerable. Loved the Steven Hawking quote.