The Fate That Is Death

The Fate That Is Death

Mindless, heedless, far from seedless.
Bent on using man’s own weakness.

Hades calmly takes his toll.
Empty husks, abandoned souls.

Wont to take all that he sees.
Will not yield all that is his.

Planted deep beneath the soil,
no resting place, this life’s foil.

Expect this fate so deeply flawed.
Yet swear no oath to this foul god.


This poem is my response to Poetics: Persephone, the dVerse prompt in which Sarah asks us to write “a poem that bubbles up from this mixed up family saga, a poem that smells of spring, or is touched by the dark fingers of the lord of the dead.” I chose the latter, Hades.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Avoiding a Grave Situation ~ haibun

Avoiding a Grave Situation

Among the gravestones of my past family members, that of my parents is the only one I ever make an effort to visit, but an interest in genealogy led me to find the markers of my paternal grandparents last year. I even researched an uncle previously unknown to me, one who died before my father was born. He was buried with his grandparents, his name absent from the granite memorial that bears their names. I imagine that as a matter of economy in a time when hardship was a way of life.

On a return visit to Buffalo last week, I rediscovered those of my maternal grandparents, their location last known to me thirty years ago. I cleared away the grass and dirt encroaching on those markers, then I went in search of the headstone of my aunt.

I found it in a much soggier section of the cemetery. It has a lovely image of an angel on it. Nearly ninety years ago, five years before my mother was born, she was struck and killed by a bus while crossing the street. She was just seven years old. Other than my siblings and children, there are no other family members living in the area, so, in all likelihood, her grave has not had any visitors since my son made a rubbing of her stone for a grade school history project, thirty years ago. All but a small portion of her name was covered with sod, so I carefully cut that away, watching as ground water seeped in to obscure the lettering. It was like time having its way, all over again.

Visiting cemeteries in the past year has me thinking about graves and their markers. Those monuments exist for the living, of course, but once the living who have any connection to those dead are gone, they might as well be nameless stones. Sure, some of those stones are significant, as reminders of historical figures lying beneath them, but the remainder are only reminders of the obscurity that awaits us.

Watching the water cover my aunt’s stone has led me to think about my own marker. For years, I have assumed I would not have one. My children understand that I wish to have my ashes placed in the Niagara River. It’s a place I always have enjoyed, especially during my hundreds of scuba dives there.

But now I imagine my children on a boat anchored on the river, slowly lowering a one hundred thirty pound piece of granite over the side, the water washing over and obscuring my name and the numbers of my lifespan, knowing that, even without a barrel, it would be my “turn to go over the falls.” The river will be their reminder of me, without any need to wander among granite markers wondering which one is mine.

each pebble in place
strong in face of rising waves
holding up mountain

Ken Gierke

Primus – Over the Falls from Mark Kohr on Vimeo.

final day will come ~ distilled troiku

final day will come_2.jpg

The challenge for Carpe Diem Weekend Meditation #52 Tagore’s “Last Curtain” is to distill a poem by Rabindranath Tagore into a haiku, which is then to be the base to create a troiku. Here is the Tagore poem to be distilled:

Last Curtain

I know that the day will come
when my sight of this earth shall be lost,
and life will take its leave in silence,
drawing the last curtain over my eyes.

Yet stars will watch at night,
and morning rise as before,
and hours heave like sea waves casting up pleasures and pains.

When I think of this end of my moments,
the barrier of the moments breaks
and I see by the light of death
thy world with its careless treasures.
Rare is its lowliest seat,
rare is its meanest of lives.

Things that I longed for in vain
and things that I got
—let them pass.
Let me but truly possess
the things that I ever spurned
and overlooked.

               © Rabindranath Tagore

My haiku, followed by its troiku:

final day will come
needless treasures gone with light
only desire truth

final day will come
witnessed by stars in the night
marking endless time

needless treasures gone with light
basest desires meaningless
no longer needed

only desire truth
possessing finest detail
value overlooked

final day will come_1.png

A troiku is three haiku, with each of the three lines from a suggested haiku as the first line of each haiku in the troiku. It’s not always possible to have a 5-7-5 format in the second haiku, due to the limitations of the suggested haiku. The name of the form is derived from “troika,” a sled or carriage drawn by three horses harnessed side-by-side, an iconic symbol of Imperial Russia.


Image sources:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
(Life of Nichiren: A Vision of Prayer on the Waves, by Utagawa Kuniyoshi)
Wikimedia Commons (troika)

The Night I Dance with Death ~ haibun

The Night I Dance with Death

Writing a haiku is not adequate in reviewing La Nuit Je Danse avec la Mort, a short animation. Both dark and erotic, it portrays a young man, caught in the grips of boredom, who accepts a pharmaceutical which at first brings pleasure, then horror, and finally erotic gratification that ultimately leads to what could be his untimely end. Rated “Mature” and worthy of an “R” rating for violence and sexual content, this short film is not meant for everyone. Call this a haibun, if you must.

self medication
escaping reality
the ultimate price


The Secret Keeper’s Haiku Review Challenge. The short film offered for review is La Nuit Je Danse avec la Mort by Gibaud Vincent (rating:Mature), found on Vimeo.

On Passing

On Passing

The light does not go out.
It does not dim.
It passes, from one
to the next. Sometimes
divided, it is held
and shared so that others
may know, remember
what is held dear.

Thinking of losses, my own and those of friends, and how we carry a spirit, so that it is not truly lost.

Message from a Death Metal God

Message from a Death Metal God.png

Message from a Death Metal God

A heron stands in the shallows of the inner harbor, in the refuge of the park, poised to strike at a fish below the surface of the lake, when it spies me. It straightens, standing tall, and turns its head to look my way. As its bill slowly traces a circle in the air, the heron speaks to me with its eyes.

“Dave told you about this place, so, of course you would be here. He has asked me to give you a message.

They are the same, you know. Life. Death. And when they meet, the circle is complete. We are the circle, and all its aspects. Inside. Outside. It’s all the same. Remember that. He will always be with you.”

“That’s pretty metaphysical. Are you sure that came from Dave? Wasn’t there some irreverent banter? You know, maybe, ‘Good morning, my lusciously lascivious cumquat hoarders!’ Something like that?”

“He knew you would say that. He says he’s ready, any time you want to talk about it. Oh, and he says you need to start listening to death metal.”

With that, the heron suddenly lunged, snagging the fish swimming past its feet, then turned away, taking flight across the water in a broad circle before fading from sight.

I knew I would be seeing it again.

Isn’t Life Strange

Just as it seems darkness will threaten
A message comes in images
Of matters that matter most
When answers can’t be found
And words aren’t enough
And the message
Is one of
Peace and

I lost a very dear friend yesterday, so of course my dream would center around him.

Image source: Animals Clipart (Irene Murphy/Creative Commons)