Throughout the millennium many cultures have had the tradition of writing a death poem or a death song. In Japan the Samurai/poets would recite their death poem as they opened their own bellies with their sword. Death poems are typically graceful, natural, and emotionally neutral, in accordance with the teachings of Buddha.
Like a rotten log
half buried in the ground
my life, which has not flowered, comes
to this sad end. Minamoto Yorimasa 1104-1180
Native American warriors would sing their death song as they rushed into battle.
‘When it comes time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.’ Unknown
In the collection of Charles Bukowski’s work, Pleasures of the Damned, he wrote poetry about dying as he slowly lost his battle with cancer. Beautiful work. Not sad, just reality, simply Bukowski. I have read and re-read this 500+ page tome and gone from laughing at his cat and the mocking bird to mourning his passing. (below) I have fallen in love with this wild, derelict genius and profited by him; I am a better writer for having known him.
Sun coming down © Charles Bukowski
no one is sorry I am leaving
not even I;
but there should be a minstrel
or at least a glass of wine.
it bothers the young most, I think:
an unviolent slow death
still it makes any man dream;
you wish for an old sailing ship,
the white salt-crusted sail
and the sea shaking out hints of immortality.
sea in the nose
sea in the hair
sea in the marrow, in the eyes
and yes, there in the chest.
will we miss
the love of a woman or music or food
or the gambol of the great mad muscled
horse, kicking clods and destinies
high and away
in just one moment of the sun coming down?
death enters my mouth
and snakes along my teeth
and I wonder if I am frightened of
this voiceless, unsorrowful dying that is
like the drying of a rose?
And I close with my own simple offering.
death comes © Haiku by t. sugarek
death comes silently
death comes with a loud screaming
death at his own hand
death comes suddenly
detroit’s bright twisted metal
steam, fire, cold asphalt
boring death, sweet death
slow trip down a lonely road
lines drip, machines beep
History, stories, poets…they all contribute to this writer’s imagination and creativity.
Interview with Charles Bukowski (posthumous)