Monday, April 15, 2013

"Everyone's Dying" by Robert Williams (1969)

This poem was written on April 15th, 1969 when I was 14 and a half years old. It got me called into the school counselor's office because it was not the first time I had written about death at such a young age. The first time I was called out for my choice of subject matter was in 1965, when I was 11 years old in 5th grade. I picked it at random from a pile of things which I keep in a drawer while looking for something to post for the 15th. Since it was such a coincidence, I thought I'd run it, if only for that purpose alone.

I had written a poem called "Jenkin's Grave" as a writing assignment in Mrs. Denslow's class in 5th grade, and she actually phoned my parents to discuss whether or not there was a problem at home. There was; as my mother was ill from the time I was about 6, until she passed away when I was 30.

So, death was always lurking about somewhere close by in my thoughts. Naturally, these thoughts found their way into my writing and have probably colored my feelings, and thoughts, for my entire life. And now, as I am getting older; past the age of my mother's death; I find myself looking at these poems more closely, as if to detect some meaning within them; a clue perhaps; of how I came to be who I am. 

Well, for better, or worse, here is that poem from 1969. It still resonates with me, and I still wonder about the eternity that faces us all; though I'd rather hang out for a few more years before I find out that answer!

An old man lay’s dying,
He’s passing away.
What does he think of
On his bed as he lay?

“I think of young ladies
Who were once young and free;
And of old folk, once young folk;
now passing with me.”

An old woman’s crying,
She’s passing away.
What does she think of 
in her final days?

“I think of the young men
I had way back when;
And of old folk, once young folk;
I won’t see again.”

A young boy is playing,
He screams and he shouts;
What does he think of
When at night, lights are out?

“I think of my father,
and how it must be.
To be older and wiser,
with a kid just like me.”

A tycoon is working
And working some more.
What does he think of,
As he does all those chores?

“I think of dead folk
And how glad they must be,
To get away from it all
And be so damn free!

I see people laughing
And larking about.
They’re right to be happy,
For time soon runs out!”

April 15th, 1969  Cunningham Junior High School 9th Grade

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