Wednesday, December 15, 2010




Death is always local.

There’s nothing abstract or universal about it.

It might be a big window with a superview of the other side

but death takes away your eyes.

Life might intimately personalize

each and every being

but death dehumanizes their seeing.

Like the Salvation Army major in full uniform

I found hanging by his neck

in a garage I was trying to break into

when I was seven

and two weeks after that

the guy who committed suicide

by jumping from the attic

onto a picket fence

like a piece of meat on a fork.

In a poor neighbourhood

everyone’s a casualty of someone or other

but the way people die

just as much as why

adds to the local colour.

But it isn’t an indifference to death

so much as the impotence to do much about it

that makes people get on with their business

as if it could have just as easily been their turn next

to check out.

Death finds the G-spot

on the gornographic theories of the living

about why they’re still around

and the poor learn earlier than the rich

to get off on the rapture of an anti-climax.

Fucking may be the lyric of the mob

but death is their return to innocence

without a class structure.

Death is Hollywood’s way

of handing out Oscars to the losers

who don’t have anyone to thank for anything.

What can death take from the poor

that could be worth more

than what was taken away long before

by those who have too much to hang onto?

I remember watching my cat die

at the top of my mother’s front stairs

and looking deeply into its eyes

saw the nobility

the real class

in the way it trusted

what was happening to it.

And I wondered how any living thing

could experience death

if they didn’t live through it.

I loved my cat like my affable familiar.

My only companion

every night I went out alone with my telescope

up on Heartbreak Hill

where seven hanged men were said to be buried

to look at the stars and be cleansed by the wonder.

My cat was my spiritual consigliere.

He was smoke and shadow.

And when he died

there was no deathmask

in a mirror of lies

to disguise himself

in the face of the truth.

He met death better than a man.

But I was the boy

that looked into his eyes

to see if life dwindled like a candleflame

back into its wick

like a geni back into its lamp

or if it were dispersed

like a gust of fireflies among the stars.

And I discovered that

life doesn’t take back what it gives.

It just let’s go of it

like a boy with a telescope and a cat.