Ars Moriendi

Ars Moriendi

Death sends us messages 
But they're unsigned
We daren't guess who they're from.
Sometimes we guess, and guess
Correctly - anon, anonymous -
Like dying into a dream, 
Dizziness, fainting,
Seizure, seized, seized-up.
Black the pre-dawn,
A moonless night, the bag over the head,
Black out. So black we have
To make light of it. Black out,
Blanked out, no more second chances,
No trophy, no reward, no celebrations,
No-one. Quick or slow,
Quick, quick, slow, a dance
We never learnt, never taught.
A door closing, not a door opening,
A window opening, us hurled through
Held in the cracked glass. Freeze frame.

How we are tempted 
By the promise of more to come
In the rolling words, the multi-tongued 
Honeyed patter 
Selling what can't be bought
And brought home

Death crashes into brain cells
Into muscles, the bones,
Chills to the core.
Bacteria eat out intestines, 
Bloom into the heart, liver, lungs. 
Insects crawl into cavities, 
Gases rise from crumpling cells.
Fluids seep, 
Flesh ferments, moulds.
Beetles strip the skin,
Moths devour hair
And all that's left is bones,

The yellowing bones of those we knew 
Or thought we knew, it makes no difference now, 
The much-prized curves of the beautiful,
The flashlight nerves of the physicist
And those who want death to hug them,
To squeeze away their cares.
They'll be briefly recalled 
By a silhoutte, a paper-cut figure,
Then static, silence.

How we are tempted
By notions of death-defying spirits,
But we are animals descended 
From amoeba. When
Did these spirits, these souls, emerge? 
From where?

All suppositions, inventions, such
Ingenuity of invention, such acretions
Of layer on layer of invention over the truth,
The harshest truth. Pull them away like cobwebs.

For it's good to know this is all there is. And why?
Because nothing has no meaning without end,
It dwindles, its force fades,
We lose interest. Or, worse, we put off what should
Be done now for later - 
So we'd live in a vacuum, a void of indecision,
Tedious, depressing. Mindless
Mindlessness, a muddle of the half-done, the half-attempted,
The unshaped, the unfinished, for what is finished
When there is always time to do more?
What is done when it can be undone and re-done?

Growling waves 
Grind rocks down to grains. 
The sparrow that sings so sweet by an open window
On a summer's night will not be the source 
Of that voice in the years to come.
The stars our ancestors watched for signs 
Have burnt their shining to black cinders, 
New ones explode into gaseous clouds. 
We live in a world of flux.
A world of chance.

And at least we can say
We, amazingly, against all the odds, had our chance.
We had our chance.

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Free Verse
writing Paul_Archer
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