Friday, June 06, 2008

first draft: my death plaque

on my death plaque,
screwed to some rotting bench
that overlooks the sea,
please don't say
i was "always brave",
even if i went
from cancer
after eight long months
of chimotherapy.
please say instead,
"he wet his pants."
"he went out
like a snivelling coward."
"he met death
on his knees, and begging,
with a suspicious
faecal odour
wafting in the air
about him."
even if i am brave--
and that possibility
is quite remote--
please don't let on
to anybody,
now, or in the
doubtful future.
i don't wish my exit
to ennoble man
(most of whom
i didn't care for).
i'd just like it
to make them
fear their own.

~waterside holiday park, devon.

5 comments:

Ralph Murre said...

If you should change your mind about this, and the plaque is already cast, just have it shipped to my address, where my name can be crudely attached.

A perfect piece.

Simon H said...

Now Bruce, I don't wish to rain on anyone's parade here, but there's one sentiment I feel I must inject into your blog. What is it?
It's the joy of life.
Sadly, it's something that appears to have simply wafted past you on the breeeze of a spring morning, without you ever noticing it was ever there.
Your life has been touched by deep sorrow. And loneliness. But is there any one of us who has not been similarly affected? I doubt it. If you'd like me to catalogue my own sorrows, regrets and traumatic experiences, it might surprise you to know just how deeply they run. I still have sleepless nights over the things I saw in the A&E department 25 years ago, and of the people I saw die, and if the truth be told helped to die, well, that's personal and not for the world to see here.

I don't dwell on these things because it serves no useful purpose. I have no mastery over the past, only the future.

Why is it that you seem so fixed on that which has already come to pass, and consequently on which you have no control? Why not concentrate on that which is yet to be, and therefore on which you do have some bearing? We can all strive to shape a future in which we desire to play a part. Whether we succeed or not is largely irrelevant.
It's called hope.

Simon

Simon H said...

Now Bruce, I don't wish to rain on anyone's parade here, but there's one sentiment I feel I must inject into your blog. What is it?
It's the joy of life.
Sadly, it's something that appears to have simply wafted past you on the breeeze of a spring morning, without you ever noticing it was ever there.
Your life has been touched by deep sorrow. And loneliness. But is there any one of us who has not been similarly affected? I doubt it. If you'd like me to catalogue my own sorrows, regrets and traumatic experiences, it might surprise you to know just how deeply they run. I still have sleepless nights over the things I saw in the A&E department 25 years ago, and of the people I saw die, and if the truth be told helped to die, well, that's personal and not for the world to see here.

I don't dwell on these things because it serves no useful purpose. I have no mastery over the past, only the future.

Why is it that you seem so fixed on that which has already come to pass, and consequently on which you have no control? Why not concentrate on that which is yet to be, and therefore on which you do have some bearing? We can all strive to shape a future in which we desire to play a part. Whether we succeed or not is largely irrelevant.
It's called hope.

Simon

Bruce Hodder said...

Ralph,
Thank you! That's a heck of a compliment.

Bruce Hodder said...

Bro,

Well, I know everybody's life has been touched by grief. I've worked in care for long enough to have seen my fair share of woes; and I will tell anybody who asks that in many ways my life has been rather privileged-- what problems I have had have been largely self-inflicted.

Your comments about the joy of life and hope are a trifle presumptuous, though undoubtedly well-intentioned. I do have a problem with depression, which has only knocked me to the canvas once in fifteen years, but I enjoy my life as much as the next man. The poem is somewhat bitter and twisted, but it's supposed to be vary darkly funny in that bitter-and-twistedness, in the way that somebody like Louis-Ferdinand Celine was. It's meant to make you laugh. Sorry if it didn't do that, but some have liked it.

If the observations about the lack of hope and joy were intended to cover the rest of the blog, well...the social and political commentary, which is probably on the dark side too, I can make no apology for. There are terrible things happening in our country and in the world, and terrible things being done to the political party (Labour) and the associated traditions that I hold dear. I think it would be morally wrong of me, given that I have a moderate gift with words and the forum of my modest public profile as poet and blogger, to be silent while our country goes to war, my own party tries to sell the NHS and destroy the unions, China rapes Tibet and Mugabe destroys what's left of Zimbabwe etc etc. And what is more hopeful than that? I still believe it is worth fighting for change and justice. The people who shake their heads while watching the news and then turn over to watch Big Brother have given up believing humanity can be anything other than a parasite destroying everything it touches.

And anybody who doubts the situation in the world is that serious should talk to my friends from Zimbabwe; or the tortured Tibetan nuns pleading with the world to hold China to account rather than sweeping torture and murder under the carpet in the name of business.

I have joy. I have laughter. I have friends who show me love and give me pleasure. And my writing reflects that if you read it consistently. But wouldn't it be nice if everybody could have just a little slice of this big hedonistic Western capitalist cake we're eating?