The Manchester Review
CK Williams
Writers Writing Dying
Poetry
print view

Many I could name but won’t who’d have been furious to die while they were sleeping but did—
outrageous, they’d have lamented, and never forgiven the death they’d construed for themselves
being stolen from them so rudely, so crudely, without feeling themselves like rubber gloves
stickily stripped from the innermostness they’d contrived to hoard for themselves—all of it gone,
squandered, wasted, on what? Death, crashingly boring as long as you’re able to think and to write it.

Think, write, write, think: just keep galloping over the hurdles and you won’t notice you’re dead.
The hard thing’s when you’re not thinking or writing and as far as you know you are dead
or might as well be, with no word for yourself, just that suction-shush like a heart pump or straw
in a milkshake and death which once wanted only to be sung back to sleep with its tired old fangs
has me in its mouth!— and where the hell are you that chunk of dying we used to call Muse?

Well, dead or not, at least there was that dream, of some scribbler, some think- and write- person,
maybe it was even yourself, soaring in the sidereal void, and not only that, you were holding a banjo
and gleefully strumming, and singing, jaw swung a bit under and off to the side the way crazily
happily people will do it—singing songs or not even songs, just lolly-molly syllable sounds,
and you’d escaped even from language, from having to gab, from having to write down the idiot gab.

But in the meantime isn’t this what it is being dead, with that Emily-fly buzzing on your snout
that you’re singing as she did, so what matter if you died in your sleep, or rushed toward dying
like the Sylvia-Hart part of the tribe who ceased too quickly to be and left out some stanzas?
So what? You’re still aloft with your banjoless banjo, and if you’re dead or asleep who really cares?
Such fun to wake up though! Such fun too if you don’t! Keep dying! Keep writing it down!