Guest poem sent in by Aseem
(Poem #1632) My Death
If I'm lucky, I'll be wired every whichway in a hospital bed. Tubes running into my nose. But try not to be scared of me, friends! I'm telling you right now that this is okay. It's little enough to ask for at the end. Someone, I hope, will have phoned everyone to say, "Come quick, he's failing!" And they will come. And there will be time for me to bid goodbye to each of my loved ones. If I'm lucky, they'll step forward and I'll be able to see them one last time and take that memory with me. Sure, they might lay eyes on me and want to run away and howl. But instead, since they love me, they'll lift my hand and say "Courage" or "It's going to be all right." And they're right. It is all right. It's just fine. If you only knew how happy you've made me! I just hope my luck holds, and I can make some sign of recognition. Open and close my eyes as if to say, "Yes, I hear you. I understand you." I may even manage something like this: "I love you too. Be happy." I hope so! But I don't want to ask for too much. If I'm unlucky, as I deserve, well, I'll just drop over, like that, without any chance for farewell, or to press anyone's hand. Or say how much I cared for you and enjoyed your company all these years. In any case, try not to mourn for me too much. I want you to know I was happy when I was here. And remember I told you this a while ago - April 1984. But be glad for me if I can die in the presence of friends and family. If this happens, believe me, I came out ahead. I didn't lose this one.
The Roger McGough poem a few days back (Poem #1628) made me think of this gem of a poem by Raymond Carver. I first heard of Carver thanks to an incredible essay about him in Salman Rushdie's Imaginary Homelands - he is, in my opinion, one of the most overlooked and underrated poets of his time. Carver's gift, as this poem amply demonstrates, is for simplicity - his poems are unadorned, almost casual, but they have a conversational honesty that reminds me of Chekhov. In addition he has an uncanny ability to sharpen the most familiar of images into poetry; his poems read almost like highly condensed stories - a few simple lines painting an everyday scene with incredible clarity - only at the end there's usually a line or two that will suddenly re-imagine the picture for you, turning it into something breathtakingly beautiful (for a particularly good exampe of this see 'Happiness' [Poem #1099]). Carver is also one of those rare entities - a poet of ideas. His work rises above mere images or wordplay, thrusting you into situations or thoughts that deepen and enrich your everyday life. Most of all though (and perhaps because of the simplicity of the writing) Carver is one of the most moving poets I have ever read - poem after poem of his brings tears to my eyes; his very matter of factness conveys a depth of emotion that few poets writing today can match. And there are few better examples of this than today's poem. It's not a hard poem to criticise, but it's a hard poem to disagree with. Raymond Carver died of lung cancer in August 1988. From what I can tell, he got his wish and died in the presence of friends and family. We should all be so lucky. Aseem [Links] Biography: http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/rcarver.htm