burying a piece of us

rest in peace

Bless the new green shoots of grass
and the leaves and flowers of spring
under the blue sky.
The morning dew on the flowers,
the bumblebees jumping from one luscious flower to another,
and the happy shrieks of children in their play.
But it isn’t always like that.
Sometimes it’s bleak and dark,
with the frost hugging plant life with deathly cold,
and cold fingers of the low lying foggy day
reaching for our aching bones,
nudging us with hints of despair.

Not to speak of the children
who haven’t had the chance to live
before the hatred of a stranger cut ‘em down
tears not dry on their cheeks
from the dress that didn’t fit
or the skateboard that was stolen
their very lives wiped out before we noticed…

And we, simple human beings;
trying to live our lives in the free spaces
between forces much greater than our understanding…
often greater than our perceptions;
carried by winds of fortune and misfortune…
in the heat of summer and the cold of winter,
forgetting in our youthful exuberance
that this life is lent to us for a time…
with the due date hidden in the tiny letters of the contract
on which we impatiently checked the ‘I agree’ box
before throwing our copy into the recycle bin…
we, the slowly evolving church mice and bed mites,
and city cats and fat cats and mountain lions…
all of us with a due date…
with head aches and back aches,
and dyslexia and mothers in law,
and some of us with the law on our backs…
and some with a monkey on our back…
all of us looking for a little light in the dead of night…
we have to learn, don’t we,
to take the good with the bad…
to enjoy a good cry as much as a good laugh…
and to moan the pain away
when it’s filled our bodies and souls past withstanding…
to moan the pain away…

and know…
that we have to take the good with the bad
and the bad with the good…
cause this is life, no matter what we came up with…
no matter if the other guy has it better,
or it isn’t fair…
or we were promised better…
this is it, for as long as we make it through…

it only matters that we like red roses,
when we’ve got the dime in our pocket,
and the all the bouquets are before us on display.
and when we’re saying goodbye to mother
or brother, or sister, or friend
or even a son, who couldn’t take it
and put a bullet in his brain,
saying… I’ve gotten this far,
and it’s as far as I wanna go…
carry on from here, I’ve done my time…

and we, who’ve put our cut hair in the pail,
and put our fingernail clippings in the dust bin
and our cigarette butts in the ashtray…
our old whiskey bottles,
and the old cardboard boxes from the super…
and the wrapping paper that came
with the shiny new purchases…
and Christmas presents found under the tree…
and the spam, and the candy wrappers

let us dig a deep hole in the ground
and with due respect
not exaggerated, and not inflated,
nor overloaded by solemn ritual…
let us put the body of our loved one
who is no longer here…
who’s body is the left over peel
of his earthly existence.
no more than the fingernail clippings
and the cut hair.
not what we will remember
it wasn’t that, we hugged, in better moments
now we’ll lower it into the ground
and shovel some dirt on top of it…
and tamp it down, we will
and say goodbye…

and keep on living, as long as we can…


40 responses to “burying a piece of us

  1. I think you said about all there is to say here. That’s it, Shimon. That’s it….and that’s all there is to it. Existence is precisely as you say it is. I will think of this for a very long time. There is too much here to read only once. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much, George. In a way, this poem comes from the internal conversation between me and myself… there are times when the emotions carry me away, like others… and then I have to remind myself, what this life is all about.

  2. This is a good poem Shimon. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  3. What profound words. I’m going to keep a copy of this poem and read it often. Thank you.

  4. Nothing could be expressed beautifully more than this, dear Shimon. I cried in your poetical touches… I prayed. I felt in my heart too. You are so nice poet too, I didn’t know this before as now… Thank you for sharing with us, dear Shimon. With my love, nia

    • Thank you so much, Nia. It gives me consolation that the two of us, coming from different countries and cultures, can understand one another, and feel those things that tug at the heart. Thank you.

  5. What a holy way to begin the day, Shimon; thank you for this…such a profound mix of loss and reverence.

    • Thank you very much, Catherine. I’m so glad you were able to share in this. Poetry is sometimes, the prayer from the heart. Thank you for the understanding.

  6. “And we, simple human beings;
    trying to live our lives in the free spaces
    between forces much greater than our understanding”

    the beginning, and the end, and everything in-between
    and yet, I ask, and keep asking … is that all there is???

    but, of course, that IS all there is, and everything in-between
    as you said yourself: “this is it, for as long as we make it through”

    • No, my dear N, I believe there is more… from time to time, we have a taste of the sublime. But that is another story, and another poem… There are so many faces to life. Thank you for your comment.

  7. Besides having a lot of good images in your poem, you touched on the mystery of our existence. There’s so much we can’t explain. Love and joy are all mixed up with pain and sorrow, and we cannot exchange our lives with anyone else; we have to live the life we’re given. Nicely done, ShimonZ.

    • I’m glad you liked the poem, yearstricken. And yes, it’s important for us to know… when we can’t understand. We human beings like to think we can understand everything. But sorrow awakens modesty. Thank you so much for your comment.

  8. סיימתי לקרוא במהלך היום את המאמר על כתריאל והתגובות עליו ופתאם הופיע השיר מהיום בכל עוצמת הכאב שבו וגם היופי שבו ובכל כובד משקלו. והרגשות מתערבבים ונערמים אחד על גבי השני ומתערבלים אחד בתוך השני.

    • תודה רבה, נוגה, על ההערה שלך. את יודעת היטב את דאבון לבי, ועד כמה השיר הזה נתן ביטוי להתלבטות בין לב לראש. יהי רצון שנזכה לשלום של אמת.

  9. I’m desperate to comment on your poem, but wordpress will not let me for some reason … I just burried my dad … I feel raw and numb … I seek advice from you, Shimon … I am part Jew and part Gypsy … Am I worthy ? I don’t know! But I love you and your words, Shimon. Aways, cat.

    • Well, I see that you did manage to comment on wordpress. People have written me, that the captcha feature is a little hard to figure at times, but I’m glad you got through. I am sorry for your loss. I am sure you’re worthy, and I will contact you through private mail. Thank you for your comment.

  10. My website is: http://catsruledogsdroole.blogspot.com/
    OMG … I’m desperate, am I …?
    Sorry, Shimon …

    • You have no reason to be desperate, Cat. When I click on your name here in the comment section, I do get your blog, cats rule, dogs droole. I think all is working. But I will write you to your email address.

  11. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    This was beautiful, Shimon. Beautiful and solemn, too. You are truly a poet. Truly, beautiful.

  12. i was thinking about the difference between using “due date” and “expiration date.” i think “expiration” is more accurate. however, this is poetry, and sound has to be taken into consideration. “due” sounds better.

    did you consider “expiration” while writing this?

    poetry is what i do best, better than the fiction i’ve been working on. it’s impossible for me to read a poem without looking for where and what i might change. and it’s all subjective, and it’s not my poem, and i’m glad i read it. and that you wrote it.

    • I don’t think that much about the possible choices or word uses when I write. Part of it is intuition, and part of it is sound. Altogether, when writing, I try to keep things as simple as possible, preferring short words to long… and in English (which is not my primary language), Anglo-Saxon words to words coming from the Latin. I agree with you, that it is a very subjective exercise. That’s what motivates me. Thank you for your comment., brains.

  13. Thank you, Shimon, for sharing this moving, beautiful poem. I will carry it with me.

  14. Your poem is so full of thoughtful reflection hewed from life’s daily trials. A very nice poem. I love poems but find few that I love. I love yours! I too think they should be written with simple words just as a painting should have a simple flow to it.

  15. …my wife and I attended a Concert in Glasgow last night and the main item was the Brahms German Requiem. Brahms was not a believer, and did not use the conventional Christian Burial Service for the lyrics, but a selection of biblical texts, many from the Old Testament Scriptures. By doing so he wonderfully transcended culture, sectarianism, language, and time. Birth and death come to us all, unasked, and in your words you also have transcended all those things which separate us a human beings and described those things which are common to us all.

    Have you a link to the Jewish Burial Service so that I can fill in my gaps of knowledge about your liturgy for those who have gone before.

    Thanks again for your insight.

    • Thank you very much, Harry, for your kind words, and your understanding. For me, the cultural differences, and the differences between the religions, do not separate human beings, but answer the unique needs of each people. I agree with you completely, that we should be more aware of that which is common to us all, especially, when we are faced with issues that are connected to our very existence. I’m sorry, I don’t use English much, and in connection with religious matters, not at all. So I don’t know any link which would give you an English translation of our liturgy… but perhaps you can find it with Google’s help.

  16. Shimon, I was completely taken with this poem, the sheer force and rhythm of the words so compelling, so relentless, so stirring… You write beautifully. I will come back to this and reread it. What a treasure. Thank you.

  17. not too much left to say. another sad day. thank you.

  18. So full of emotions, I read it a few times, sorrow for what’s could have been, hope for what can be later. Great writing, I will have to come back to it. 🙂

  19. This has word and picture to it, more than mine. Well, we’re all talking about human nature in different societies but we draw diverse pictures, that’s poetry…great! http/:africaanos.wordpress.com

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