Tag Archives: death

1173. A death rattle

The wheezing in his breath was like a massive 16-part angelic choir; soft, and coming and going from the room in a regular pattern, near and far, near and far. “They’re coming to get him,” said Mabel. “Death can’t be far off.”

And she was right. He was to last for only another three days. The celestial choir had continued all that time, ending with a long groan followed by a sort of gurgle, and then silence. Suddenly after the silence there was a final groan and that was it. “It was the death rattle,” said Mabel. “I heard it coming on. I got one hell of a fright. But what a consolation to be accompanied by angels!”

Poem 37: Loss

(The poetic form selected for this month is the Standard Habbie aka Burns Stanza).

For eighteen years I nursed and fed.
I can’t believe, son, you are dead.
I try to fathom things you said.
I weep a bit –
The life that we together led –
The end of it.

I’m here to clean out all your drawers;
Your shirts and trousers, socks and smalls.
I’ll pack them quick before I bawl.
This coat I know!
Too short for someone quite so tall!
Such thoughts bring woe.

I’ll leave it for another day.
I cannot clear the past away.
Someone else can pack, I say.
I cannot hide
The path you took when things turned grey –
Your suicide.

1045. Professor of Poetry

When Professor Edwin Lumsden’s mother died, he left it to his only sibling, his sister Berwyn, to make all the funeral arrangements. After all, Professor Edwin Lumsden was a busy man. He had to lecture in poetry at the university twice a week, and each lecture took hours of preparation. Only last week he had lectured on the meaning of the bits of Greek in Ezra Pound’s poetry. This week he was lecturing on several of e. e. cummings’ 2,900 poems. His mother would have understood why he couldn’t afford the time to help organise her funeral, and besides, his sister was exceedingly competent.

And there it was – in the morning paper – for all to see. The obituary:

I know you find it hard to part
With me, O darling of my heart,
But only trust in Jesu’s name
And you shall see your mother again.
  – Inserted by her loving son, Professor Edwin Lumsden

How could he face his academic colleagues after that? He was down to lecture about the impact of Duns Scotus’s philosophy on the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, and then this bit of rhyming balderdash made its appearance.

Professor Edwin Lumsden couldn’t face it. He was ashamed. He was embarrassed. He missed the funeral and called in sick at the university for three weeks.

1040. Dumbfounded

He was shocked and mystified to read his death announcement in the morning paper. There it was in clear black letters: JOHN MILFORD BARNABAS RODGERS. Died suddenly while on vacation in the Philippines. Loved husband of Nola. Loving father and father-in-law of Roberta and Cranford, Arnold and Cecily, and Nigel and Petra. Much loved grandfather of seven wonderful grandkids.

Most definitely shocked and mystified. Dumbfounded perhaps. Except his wife wasn’t called Nola, and his children weren’t Roberta, Arnold and Nigel. Nor had he any grandchildren. Nor had he ever been to the Philippines. And to top it off, his name on his appointment card to see the psychiatrist next week wasn’t JOHN MILFORD BARNABAS RODGERS.

Poem 25: It would be awful


It would be awful to die on a Saturday.
There’s always sport on tele and
probably the mortician and her husband have gone to the races.

It would be awful to die on a Sunday.
Half the shops are shut and
probably the undertaker’s taken the day off and gone off.

It would be awful to die on a Monday.
The week’s just waking up and
probably the embalmer had to dash to town for more eye shadow.

It would be awful to die on a Tuesday.
It’s such a humdrum sort of day and
probably the sexton’s busy burying the crowd that croaked over the weekend.

It would be awful to die on a Wednesday.
It’s slap-bang midweek and
probably the hearse is out of action with a flat tire or a burned-out clutch.

It would be awful to die on a Thursday.
We always get take-a-ways then and
probably the morgue is chockablock with yesterday’s bodies.

It would be awful to die on a Friday.
It’s the day before the weekend and
probably the resident organist is having a few drinks to celebrate a profitable week.

As you can see, no day’s good for dying,
which is probably why I’m not that much looking forward to it.

1019. Death notice


Diamonique wrote her own death notice:

I don’t want no flowers. I don’t want no cards. No funeral, just a cremation and no one’s to come. Nothing. I’d like everyone to know that I hated them as much as they hated me. Burn all my stuff. No free handouts for my greedy relatives.

P.S. Guess what Diamonique? The family are having one hell of a party.

929. Free hand


There was one thing that Fabian wasn’t particularly fond of – in fact he hated it – and that was loose elastic in his pants. He would have to hold his pants up with one hand and do everything else with the other.

And then he died.

His silly wife, Caroline Myrtle, had him buried wearing those pants with the damn loose elastic.

There he is now! That one over there, playing beatific golf with one free arm, and holding his pants up with the free hand. Forever.