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Death Sentences

Death leaves a sacred hole
where once lived a whole relationship
with both potential future
and a now more cherished past

Still seen
and heard
and smelled,
tasted and felt, sensed
and incensed
through an echoing hole of darkly bitter loss.

I would be a hypocrite
and a liar
if I were to condemn
our sons and their cherished friends
for cowardice
or craziness
for choosing to end their lives.

When government sanctioned taking of life
goes on and on and on
we call this the cost of just wars
or a death penalty
rather than a life forfeit.
Yet it is the living
who repay this price.

It could be more honest
to call these deliberate extractions
a death investment
and perpetual re-investment
of a culture not yet sure of how radically vulnerable
compassionate life could
and should
become.

Death investment repeated as long as politically expedient,
and also personally poignant
whether self or other inflicted
or something in-between.

I do not grieve his loss of future
but my own

For to grieve my own lost future,
all we might have yet become together,
is honest,
and holy

While to grieve his lost future
is to dishonor his choice
and his compulsion
to part ways
when life felt too dishonest
to bear another traumatic day.

To be born
before or after
or beside and aside one’s right-felt time
and nurturing place
is already loss of future
sent through messages past
as love grows too thin and faded
lust for life descends too jaded,
loss of faith
for hope
arising futures now lost.

I would not dishonor,
too easily dismiss,
suicidal loss of life
as complete insanity
as if I could claim,
with full integrity,
that inhumane and too-patriarchal living losses
are not shy of full-grown sanity.

As this day closes,
this time and place
in tears of loss
without fanfare,
without deadly sentences
much less farewells,
I yet lack courage
of my own despair
about our future of continuing death investment
as measured by my own limits
for tolerating inane insanity,
vitriolic violence,
absurd abuse
of calling deliberate death investments a penalty
as if any life were something reasonably erased
through ultimatum fines
for having had an unfortunate birth day.

This death leaves a sacred hole
where once lived a whole relationship
of futures cast together
now gently placed
apart.

What did he see
that I have not yet felt
strongly enough
to choose to never see again?

This question changes those left behind
for the rest of our haunted days and nights.

Why him,
and not yet me,
not yet us?

 

In honored memory of Greg, lived Large, yet much too short, measures of suicide and other death investments.

 

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Uncategorized

Ms. Liska

When I was a FreshPerson in a new higher school,
our English Literature class was delighted
to meet a new to our rural area Ms. Liska,
who was a beautiful teacher
both outside
and in,
and so we all loved her,
and knew she loved us as well,
although sometimes not happy with one or another
due to smart-ass behavior.

One day,
for reasons we could not imagine at the time,
nor would I remember in this rhyme
of metaphysical reasons for living
and dying,
Ms. Liska
asked if any of us had heard of Marcus Aurelius.

Whom I happened to be reading at the time.
So I was, as I recall,
surprised to see only my hand up
because I had probably just volunteered
to display my FreshPerson ignorance.

She did in fact go there
and ask just whom I thought Aurelius was,
which seemed to me
to be
a Roman Emperor
who was also a published Stoic philosopher.

And so it seemed to Ms. Liska as well
so why not dig the Stoic grinding ax some deeper?
And what is Stoicism?

Now definitions
are not my strength,
I’m more of a delineating guy.
So I thought a Roman Stoic
might be like a British Churchill,
keeping a stiff upper lip
having looked at all our deadly facts
and blundering on anyway
with this mysterious life of stoicism.

Of course Ms. Liska
would not allow stoicism to rear its obstinate head
within its own stubborn definition
so she kindly invited me to try again,
not because I was wrong,
she quickly added,
but because I could become even more right.

Marcus Aurelius reminds us
if life is indeed a bed of roses
then we should expect some deadly thorns
along life’s thunderous way.

He invites us to embrace our birthday
by remembering
this celebration is paid back
with an ultimate death day,
as what grows up must also fade down
and back.
It’s a package deal.
Accepting this package as gift
in its life and death polarities
is a stoic thing to do,
and a delusional thing
not to do,
a Greek act of hubris;
not very Roman patriotic,
not stoically realistic.

Ms. Liska found this better
than my stoic thorns
along life’s bed of dying roses way.
But,
then we skipped along to something else
and I never did have my time
to ask her what she thought
about similarities and differences
between who has authority to induce life
and whom might, then,
find responsibility for deducting my life,
any life,
humanely compassionate
or more stoically otherwise,
like a hungry Roman Emperor
or voracious bear.

For it seemed to me
quite transparently true
that in accepting my right to live
and do the best I could
to stoically tolerate
everybody else’s own acceptance of their right to live
and do the stoic best we can
with life’s inevitable ups and downs,
then we must agree with our inherited justice system,
and to live within a just war view of stoic death
is also an unjustified view of my authority to live responsibly.

I was no more authoritative
and remain no less responsible
for causing my own stoic life to begin
than to end my own life,
much less anyone else’s,
or to delegate authority
to some tired State
to do this for me.

I think Marcus Aurelius
was more stoically comfortable
with society’s right
to invite
each person who has taken a life
to become responsible enough
to consider choosing their own death
within a wider ecological context
of restorative justice.

But, just, fair, equitable restoration of a life
irresponsibly taken
does not in any way,
not even a stoic way,
suggest society’s collective right
to irresponsibly take yet another life
now lived across a threshold
of authority
beyond which we cannot responsibly live
cooperatively together.

In choosing to kill,
in choosing to sanction acts of deadly violence,
in choosing to maim and harm,
in choosing deadly and imprisoning revenge,
we stoically choose our own death day
with no more or less authority and responsibility
than for our own birthday,
and each day that follows
between life’s roses
and deadly shaming blaming thorns,
between integrity
and separations
devoid of restorative justice opportunity,
further WinWins
for each and all EarthTribe.

It is difficult to teach how to stoically fall on one’s own responsible sword
when raised in a military-industriously violent society
determined to competitively invest millions of dollars
in deadening revenge
rather than enlivening sacred invitations
to more stoic restorative justice,
celebrating life feeds life birthdays
and eulogizing death breeds death days
lost in mythic pasts
when we first sacrificed virgin children
to a drought-inducing
Vengeance is Mine
SunGod,
even before Holy Roman Empires.

Justice as revenge
assumes our competitive choices
are between brands of death,
while restorative justice,
more stoically balanced,
presumes if we did not first, more primally,
have cooperative choices between brands of life,
then branding and marketing justified death
would remain an ecological and historical moot point
of LoseLose vengeful nihilism.

And so I continued in my smart-ass ways,
wondering what Ms. Liska would think
about balancing our right to life
with fight against condoning death
except where stoically chosen.

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