It Was Not a Beautiful Death



We’ll steal your boots, we said,
over cold pizza, soda and beer.
OK, mostly root beer.
We were nerds like that.

The boot stealing and looking for loose change
was supposed to happen in an age filled with floating cars;
not two years before hover boards should have been invented.

Every bad luck joke thrown back in our faces -
even the luckiest man on earth got to make a speech,
before nerves withered,
twisting muscles, stealing words,
like a cursed prince in a fairy tale.

It reminded me of my favorite one,
and a comic relief’s tears,
once it was remembered
sometimes fairy tales don’t end well.
At least not for everybody concerned. 

And the best you can hope for,
if you cannot wield a righteous flame,
if you do not hold a magic staff,
if you rolled poorly,
at least in our memories you are restored
to full hero’s health,
even if your death was not the stuff of bard song.


We didn’t take your boots in the end. 


Song Choice: One by Metallica


Process Note: This post is part of Imaginary Gardens For Real Toad's September 2015 post, where we were asked to select a poem of one of the young writers Kerry teaches as inspiration for our poem and help them to complete their target of 300 poems in 30 days. I was inspired by Farewell by Nishka Ramkhelawan, using the line "It was not a beautiful death" as my inspiration. Friends and long time readers may have guessed by now it was also inspired by the death of a good friend, just about two years ago from ALS, better known as Lou Gherig's disease. 

48 comments:

  1. This is stunning.
    We lost a friend to ALS, as well.
    Thank you for this beautiful piece.

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    1. Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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    1. Because you of all people know how much I need to crack a joke right now or I'll crack up - do you think I could have thrown in more gaming references? I don't know if I quite had enough. How did I not use the word fumble in this?

      But thanks for reading and commenting :)

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  3. I understood it (and its references) much better the second time I read it, after learning the ALS connection. Beautiful, Rommy!

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    1. Thanks. Much of the in joke feel was due to my need to work in themes of sci fi and fantasy in there, at least in some small way. My friend loved that kind of stuff.

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    1. Thanks. Its coming up on the anniversary of his passing and the line from the original poem (which you ought to check out - wonderful stuff!) just hit me really strongly.

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  5. This really feels very immediate and real, also it seems to take us back to those days when we were that young (I should say *me* and *I was* as you are not that aged and wizened, dear Rommy) but anyway, you know what I mean. One of the things I found so appealing about Kerry's students' poetry was their honesty and the flame of their youth burning so brightly in their words. You did the same here, and the fantasy touches are perfect. I tip my Helm of Mystic Reflection +1 to you.

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    1. There was a wonderful energy to their work - very true to their youth but marvelous with the depth of the ideas they developed in their work. Yes, it definitely inspired memories of college days and afternoons filled with Dungeons and Dragons (we *were* nerds after all) and the space at the gaming table that is empty now.

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  6. It is good to reach a place beyond the rawness of first mourning, when one can remember what being together felt like with some sense of joy that endures beyond the terrible death.

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    1. The jokes and good pizza shared during those days are a wonderful part of my young adult hood. I wouldn't trade them for anything.

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  7. You can feel the despair mixed with the camaraderie, then in the end, the honor they bestowed in their own way. This was wonderful, Rommy! A very beautiful tribute! My granddad died of MS, so it hit home for me, too! Thank you for the words.

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    1. MS is a cruel disease as well. I am sorry your family went through that.

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  8. Wow. Unless it would be AIDS, I can't think of a crueler illness. This poem lives and breathes and brings a small group of people and a moment in time to life, despite the loss.

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    1. Near the end he did resemble what I thought someone dying of AIDS might look like. At least we had plenty of good times to remember before that.

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  9. A powerfully nostalgic & personal piece; yet there is love, respect, levity, & light within it. It is a meaningful paean to your friend, & tribute to Kerry. I used Nishka's poem as well.

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    1. He would have wanted that levity, so I had to include it. Thank you for the kind words.

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  10. A sweet look at the relationship of friends. Thanks for sharing the tragic in such an uplifting way.

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    1. Thank you. I really wanted to get that feel of the playfulness of our youth in there. He would have appreciated that.

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  11. I loved how you weaved the youthful nerdiness with the horror of the disease.. Now there are no magical restoring into full health. Truly a very strong piece

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    1. If I made it too dignified, it would have been off somehow :) We were a very nerdy bunch.

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  12. Love it! ah, I remember when we thought the future would have hoverboards and terrible 80s fashion!

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    1. We just watched that movie with my kids and had a good laugh over where people thought we'd be in 2015.

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  13. This is a beautiful poem--very poignant, heartfelt, witty--well done, Rommy--sad. k.

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    1. Thank you. It was good to be able to express myself through this poem.

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  14. I'm sorry about your loss...your poem is powerful especially your closing stanza. Beautiful.

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    1. Thanks. I know all of us who knew him are still grieving in our own way.

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  15. ...not the stuff of bard song. But surely, anyone who faces such a death is a hero in my eyes. This is stunning, very personal writing. Loved it - in all its sadness and poignant, fond remembrance.

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    1. Thank you. We joked about what a goof he was when he was alive, but it takes a very brave person to face down ALS.

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  16. Loss of a friend does inspire memories as emotions are invoked. Very poignant Kestril!


    Hank

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    1. Thank you. I am glad you enjoyed it.

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  17. This is powerful. I love the conversational tone, and love how in the end you restored your friend to health, if only in memory, and a poem. A wonderful write, made more moving when I saw your note about your friend. A terrible disease.

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    1. Thank you. I definitely wanted a conversational, almost casual feel to this and I'm glad I accomplished it.

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  18. There is something--actually, there are a lot of somethings--to be said about how we see someone after death. Some go from people-we-usually-avoid to oh-it's-impossible-to-live-without-them; some have their entire living erased by reshaped memories of what a few wished they were. In the end, and like you last line suggest, the best of all is an honest death (even if not a "beautiful" one); a funeral full of laughing root-beer drinkers drinkers--who laugh and cry while drunk in memory, pain and nostalgia--and have the consideration not to steal footwear. ♥

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    1. Yes, it was honest at the end, and we still cry a bit and also laugh when his memory rolls across our minds.

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  19. How wonderful it is that you have written a poem for and about him as he stays with you in your memory as he once was. Beautifully written.

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    1. Thank you. It was the strangest thing. He'd been ill for so long and couldn't speak the last couple of years of his life, but I only remembered the sound of his laugh the day of the funeral.

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  20. Oh Rommy, this is so very tender and emotive 💖💖 I like how you weave the time of youth with the horror of the disease. Our memories of our loved ones are such that we cherish forever. I'm so sorry for your loss. Big hugs to you. Thank you so much for participating at Prompt Nights and for your constant love and support 💖💖

    Lots of love,
    Sanaa

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  21. Reading this again, after having heard you talk so much about M, left me in tears. I think I need a moment, or three...

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    1. Yeah I need a few moments when I re-read this too.

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  22. Your love and respect and grief shine through this. He is well remembered.

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  23. Written with love and respect, thanks for sharing this Rommy

    much love...

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  24. Really very strong. I am sorry for the loss of your friend to such a horrible illness.

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  25. Such a touching tribute - I do hope she is restored to full hero health - she has been in your beautiful words perhaps? I am so sorry you lost your friend.. best wishes to you all

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  26. Very poignant piece, Rommy. I had to reread after the wee notes at the bottom. You've captured loss of your friend with such grace and love, and a bit of humour infused makes one cry and smile at the same. May the fond memories of your friend bring you comfort always.

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  27. A wonderful tribute to your lost friend - though the truth is that he is not lost but living still in your fond memories of the good times you once shared.

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