Strange surroundS

strange surrounds


When does one die?
How is one’s death known to one-self?
Is it observed with a first registered wilt?
The browning of tips on leaves?
Sap and moisture contracting within?
A hardening of veins beneath thinning skin?
A labored effort to maintain a semblance of green?

Is it upon being trodden upon, brushed aside?
Leaving one to linger, languid, bloom fled?
If remaining upright, is it become flagging in stance?
Browning to brittle, the hollowing of wood?
Collapsing and rotting, without struggle?

At what precise point does a plant die?
Does it first struggle with a melancholic ache?
Await a measurable curtailment of its sensibilities?
Does consciousness fade while it deepens to death-bitten black?
Functioning, just barely sufficient, to suggest extant life?
Can there be an exact measure of the onset of its irrevocable demise?

Do we accept death at its first presentment or stumble on?
Steadily shedding our last living indications like leaves,
though death has already made its mark on us and passed by.



He seems leaner than he need be for appearance’s sake,
with spindle arms, articulated at his elbows, moving piston-like.
Bony hands pumping balls upward,
and now raising himself up, wavering on toes,
to demonstrate his skill to the passing pedestrian flow.

His public persona is founded on a film of white paste
spread across his face
that eases into cracks and creases.
Bright color is applied to enhance a doleful mouth and eyes.

The same eyes witness, each day, indifference as it shuffles by.
Those few, the mildly curious, who stop a while,
keep their hands still at their sides or inside their pockets.

Passing thru his frenetic hands, balls are moved rapidly,
thrown up and recalled, to the same grasp, by gravity.
But a slip or imminent spill and
inevitable imperfection is exposed.

Now cheerless determination, his struggle to recover, maintain position,
to juggle in quick smooth snatches, a compulsion to beat defeat.

Some time later, takings landed on his pavement cloth
are gathered, secured and removed.
He is gone, maybe to find appetite
in that life left over in the day,
to drink and eat and count the capital gain
and reflect on the cost.

When i see you again, some time hence,
i see that your body remains unnaturally lean.
Feeding the preoccupations of your mind
that adversity nurtures, i suspect.

If right, i could say that thought can, by habit,
be unrelentingly unkind, and
that there are too many criteria
by which to judge oneself failed.

But i don’t and won’t.
But judgment does drive us all.
And when pushed, we stumble,
predictably, towards a fall.

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