Kepler’s 1604 naked eyes saw the birth
of a star, actually that supernova was
the star’s death. With no telescope invented,
he watched the spiral galaxy’s Milky center
explode into night, 20,000 light years away.
This is the remnant of Kepler’s supernova, the famous explosion that was discovered by Johannes Kepler in 1604. The red, green and blue colors show low, intermediate and high energy…
We tried to feel his once presence here,
but the life energy had been transformed.
The tour group took pictures without ghosts.
The staff set tables for a wedding.
I saw Kilimanjaro snow on his table.
Hemingway’s writing table in his Key West home.
He acquired the home in 1931 and lived and wrote there until he divorced Pauline in 1940. She got the home in the divorce and continued to live there…
The day begins with a lunar eclipse.
Obscured by clouds, it still happened. Unseen
by me like so many deaths, births,
tragedies, triumphs. Tonight I see a child
splashing the full moon from the ocean.
Sleep would not come to me again
last night that turned morning turned afternoon.
I stayed awake all night reading poems
afraid that someone will cover my eyes
if I close them. I smell dirt.
Birds pecking rapidly at the yellowing grass.
Squirrels harvesting acorns that tap all afternoon,
falling on the table, chairs and me,
staring at the setting sun. It hurts.
And every day I think about dying.
You may have seen the film 21 Grams (2003). Buried within its non-linear stories of three characters in a past, present and future swirl was the titular reference to the weight of a soul.
The title refers to research by physician Dr. Duncan MacDougall that dates back to 1901. His goal was to measure the mass lost by a human when the soul departs the body at death. His experiment started with six…
One leaves us by his own hand.
One that loved wisely but too well.
To sleep, when peaceful dreams may come.
May. If so, he knows. For us,
there’s tomorrow, and hopefully tomorrow, and tomorrow.
The breaking of so great a thing should make
A greater crack: the round world
Should have shook lions into civil streets,
And citizens to their dens.
The aurora at the start of day
cannot hold against the fall of night.
Being granted immortality but not eternal youth
is no wish fulfilled. Fear of death,
natural as the sunset, twilight, darkness, acceptance.
Under the sequestered cool of hardy oaks,
behind a noiseless gray churchyard, I rest.
Not so far in time and place,
from the madding crowd who will also
rest here, seated upright or lying down.
Last year, it could not happen. Denial
But, damn you, for this curse! Anger
We prayed together, one truly believing. Bargaining
No life. No meaning. Nothing but depression.
Someday, they say, will come unlikely acceptance.
Hamnet Shakespeare was baptized 2 February 1585
and buried 11 August 1596. Only son
of William Shakespeare, fraternal twin of Judith.
No poems or speeches written for him.
No lines can ever bring one back.
1890 engraving by unknown German artist of William Shakespeare reciting lines to his family. His wife, Anne Hathaway, is sitting in the chair on the right; his son Hamnet is behind him on…
— François Rabelais
French Renaissance man Francois Rabelais died 461 years ago. His legacy includes the word Rabelaisian—used to describe good-natured, bawdy humor. This quote is supposed to be his dying words — that may be in dispute, but I like it nevertheless.
William Blake’s “Ancient of Days”
Poet Billy Collins has quipped that majoring in English means majoring in death. It is the big theme in literature. I was an English major.
None of us likes death and we don’t like to think about it, but we can’t help but think about it.
I had a course in the Bible as literature in college. The course didn’t convince me that the Bible is literature or convince me…