Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Not another death poem

—for Judy

This poem is not about death;
there are too many of those.
It is about everything else:
the long discussions of when
we were seven or twenty-two;
how we fancied being “great writers”
(both of us, even then);
how we were otherwise unalike,
you protesting in the streets,
      me watching,
you flirting with any and all
who would flirt back,
      me blushing,
you with the wild hair and umber eyes. 

It is about anything but now;
anything but the slow fading,
anything but the white lilies
that will cover you before
the next hint of frost on the meadow. 

—Loch Raven Review, Vol. 1, No. 1, Fall 2005

This poem was republished in January at Juliet Wilson's Bolts of Silk; check out her fine 'zine.

Judy, who served as inspiration here, was a spirited "hippie" and somewhat-tragic figure from California; I got to know her a number of years ago at an online health-related forum. We had conversations about all sorts of things via e-mail and a time or two by phone. She grew up around music and had been a freelance writer (among other professions) who sometimes covered the L.A. music scene.

Judy helped and encouraged me with my first serious attempt or two at poetry. She said we'd have a fun time if I were there. However, she died too early, from an excrutiating illness—before, it would seem, she could finish living. (Neither of us, of course, turned into "great writers," but dreaming is easy!)


  1. Very evocative. I love your first two lines--and your last five-line stanza, which reads almost like a tanka.

  2. thanks, jenny!
    in the last part, I prob. didn't know then that I almost was writing a tanka. ;)

  3. We shy away from thinking about death, but it keeps returning as a thought, a memory and, sadly, a reality.
    And, for a writer, it returns as a poem or some other form with words.


  4. "And, for a writer, it returns as a poem or some other form with words."
    Yes, I guess it does! Thanks for the comment!

  5. Janet... what an amazing tribute! This says so much about two people who basically passed in the night with one thing in common. One amazing thing. Your close was stellar. It moved me. So beautiful.... so right. xo stace