Dear Friends, June 25, 2012

Dear Friends,

I’ve got a problem. I need some advice.

In recent years, I’ve been writing mostly poems about growing old and dying. (Some people say that’s all I’ve ever written about.) I have the distinct feeling that people don’t want to read such stuff. They don’t want to deal with death and dying, even though both are inevitable.

My last book, HAPPY LIFE was on the poetry.org bestseller list for 29 weeks, and here, almost a year from its publication date it still pops up on the list from time to time. I wonder if one of the reasons it is so popular is because of its title. What do you think?

Also, this: after a reading this spring, during the Q and A, a woman commented that the closer to death I get the brighter my outlook on life becomes. She thought my early poems, the JUDEVINE poems, were a lot darker than the more recent stuff, even though I now deal with death and dying more than ever.

For those who know my work, do you agree with that?

I’m asking all this because, even though I’m older now, my attitude increasingly is one of greater gratitude for this life. Take for example the poem:

Gratitude

I see more and more clearly

as I grow older how gratitude

is at the center of my life, at

the center of all life, how it is

the core of living. Without it

life is bitter and inconsolable.

Yet, it seems so hard to really

be grateful for this life, most

especially when we are young,

which is why we need to be

grateful for the older ones

who can teach us

how to say thank you

for our lives.

On the other hand, here’s another poem, a quite recent one:

Pain

I can feel myself slipping, fading away, withdrawing

from this life, just as my father did. When the pain

you’re in is so great you can’t think about or pay

attention to anything but your own pain, the rest of

the world, all of other life, doesn’t matter, slips away.

I think about my friends with dementia, cancer,

arthritis and how much more pain they are in than

I am, but it does no good. Their pain is not mine, and

therefore, no matter how magnanimous I might want

to be, their pain is not as important to me as my own.

My question is: who wants to read that?

Answers, responses gratefully appreciated.

More next week.

 

Sincerely, David

25 June 2012