Tag Archives: facing death

Poems from the 2018 New Year Death Poem Workshop

The trees and I!
For almost 80 years we have breathed each other.
Now, approaching my last breath,
I can’t tell one of us from the other.

Farewell at last to this metabolic fire
that warmed me from birth!
80 years of mammalian love and loneliness!
Now for the big molecular reunion!

At last I am ready to go wherever gravity may lead,
To fall with the leaf, to merge with the stream,
To sink deep into the soft, thirsty earth.

– Myozen Barton Stone


1.The earth laughs in flowers, waterfalls, rainbows.
I laugh at the amazing good fortune for this
rich and wonderful life.

2. Irises, the first food for bees in spring.
This bag of old bones might nourish
a tree, a shrub…Bees may alight on
the blossoms. Their buzz will not
awaken me.

3. I am dying. There are no more
weeds to pull.

4. As a child, fearful of death, I’d hold
my breath in bed, trying to know what
it must be like to be dead.
Now breath holds me, for not much longer.

5. My granddaughter, Samaya, tells me her
kitty is dead, died next to her in bed. We
dig a hole together. Flowers will grow here.
So simple.

6. Each precious moment,
dewdrops sparkle in sunlight.
Breath’s insistence like pelting rain.
Heartbeat fades, descending mountain,
journey’s end.

7. We have done well, my love, in this dance
with all beings, in this dance together.
Time now to set down shovel and hoe,
to scatter our last seeds.

– Constance Miles 1/3/18


It’s getting closer. . .
Its nearness manifests: hot tears burst from my eyes and sobs catch the breath.
More bad news.
Fine to soften it,
To pad the sharp metallic edge with the continuous coatings of daily-ness.
Let me open, let me open, let me open-
I beg you, sky!

Inexhaustible, beyond, all-encompassing,
Endless, boundless, infinite, forever, never-ending, eternal
. . . .do you get it?

Let experience swallow me,
Let action melt completely into the next, and the next, and the next.
Let movement be breathing wind,
Body, solid water.
Let the sunset break over and soak into me like a yolk staining the sand.
Stones at the bottom of the sea- now I am one with you.

– Jude


So bright, so bright – cold certain fact
Unwavering fate – shared by all
Connects us all – the cold softens
And there, at the edge of the light –
So dark, so dark – gaping night
Not even a drop of knowing can get through
But a warmth – expansive, unbridled
A colt gallops under twinkling stars

Without liking it, finally loved it: death.
Busting out of the closet in a jumble of boxes.
One intimate moment is worth all of it.

– Korin

Poems from the 2017 New Year Death Poem Workshop

I’m outta here,
dusting off my hands,
and I don:t have to go someplace else either.
Big relief!!

The World is your problem now.
Good luck with it.

– Tomi G.


If You Throw Me a Wake
(aka Death Poem 2017)

If you throw me a wake
light a candle or two
Say something, tell the truth, or
at least a credible lie.

Try to keep the wisecracks to a minimum.

Play some music:  not too maudlin,
but not too jolly either, in between.
Quiet phrases and subtle notes.

Toast to life with all it’s vagaries, and
to my wondrous journey with you through it.
Its pains and pleasures done.

Remember what you will. I wish to remember it all,
if only for a fleeting moment.

Cast my ashes into the ocean.  Allow my remains
to mingle and dance with the currents.  Seeking out
my origins.

Take a moment each day to reflect on our paths together.
I walk a different path than you now,
but no so different it is unrecognizable.

I no longer depend on those rose colored glasses.

They say you should have no regrets when you go.
I still have one or two…
Does that mean I get a reprieve?

– Richard


Sweet winter rain!
I fall with you,
Melting cold into the gravel path.

Sorry to leave before you were ready!
It could have been the other way.
Still, in my heart, I touch your hair and kiss your tears
As always.

The fruit trees!  The scrub jays!  The grasses!
Tell them I died of gratitude.

– Myozen


Sleepwalking when I thought I was awake.
Cracked Open.
Now I see.

Sweetness for me.
Like a wave my life briefly looks distinct in the vast ocean.
The ocean I am.
No distinction.

The human body truly is the entire cosmos*.
What struggle?
Steer gently as to not unknowingly impede what is already flowing.
(*with gratitude to Myogen Steve Stucky)

– Alice Jean


Susan Spencer once told me
In this culture death is here and life over here (gestures with hands held far apart)
But in Buddhism, they are like this….
(gestures with hands folded together)
She said more but I forget the rest.

The Buddha said when you meditate focus on the breath,
then focus on the body and then the Dharmas.
Finally go to the charnel  grounds and meditate on the  decaying corpse..
The Buddha said more but I forget the rest.

My Darling, some day we will be alone and then together and then alone together a thousand million times in this realm of samsaric rebirth and death and beauty.
There is more I wanted to say but I forget the rest.

– Bob


Is it sinmply the end? Is it ever?
When has nothing ever begun?
To really know what dies here and now,
We need to know what was born.
Graspable ends are filled
With countless inconceivable ands

Eight and forty years –
If it goes, it goes,
But please know, dear ones,
The only thing I’m sure I don’t refret
Is every drop of love.

Now – one dance.
After – one dance.

– Korin