You Say You Are Dead

You Say You Are Dead

The cloud of it makes for gloomy dust
that settles on drapes upstairs where
a vow was made to clean

The creaky steps used to be a music
and as a joke you went up and down a step
like Shirley Temple doing tap dancing:
up the stairs to the room where
scintillating were the tones
of color and voice

The cloud of it makes memory dust
and a vow to clean. Why do you always

put your love on the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner. You don’t have to
be that clean. There is no
death in a vacuum. Just dust.

Nature abhors a vacuum but you’re OK
as long as you’re of the deadness that
stills the house dumped on
the wicked witch of the west
in the tornado of Dorothy’s dream.

Pray tell, how does deadness speak without
wetted words of dread and dampness blanketing as a fog.

If you can not give us words, why do you
haunt us with desires unspoken. If you
will not ask us, how do you know
we will not grant it. Never mind, shush.

You probably would ask too much or too little.
What can we offer the dead but silence or a party. You could chose one.

— Douglas Gilbert


5 thoughts on “You Say You Are Dead

  1. So much to think about in this poem. ‘Creaky steps used to be a music’ and the tap dancing…such lovely music upstairs. I love the word scintillating. I didn’t know what it meant and had to look it up but i love the sound of it (and the meaning too now). I sort of have a bit of an obsession with the cleaning it seems like. My allergies start acting up with the dust and when i have too much energy cleaning is a great way to get rid of some of it. I’m so…well i don’t really know what word i’m looking for. I’m on edge lately, kind of like when you feel like something really big is going to happen. I like the line ‘you don’t have to be that clean’, it’s reassuring. I have so many words. There just all jumbled up and when i am confused or lost i don’t even know if the words i speak or think are valid. So i tend to just be quiet and wait for understanding before i say too much or the wrong thing. There are so many questions where does one even start asking? Sometimes i feel like Alice in Wonderland. Did you ever see the Disney cartoon? It was one of my favorites when i was kid. I liked the caterpillar…’Who R U?’ he asked blowing out the words in colored smoke and Alice replies “well don’t you think you should tell me who you are first?” But if i were Alice I probably would’ve replied “i don’t know, who am i?”. And how odd is that? To not even know who you are? I think I will be like Alice and choose a party over silence…she did join in on the Mad Hatter and March Hare’s tea party…though i think she was a little confused too…

  2. Thank you. You do such wonderful commentary worthy of Alice who always maintains her dignity even if perplexed and is always very reasonable and friendly in the midst of chaos. So in the cold mist, I blow out the smoke of my breath, ” Yoooou are whooo you are when you soothe the invisible pain that makes the Cheshire Cat’s smile as mysterious as Mona Lisa’s.” Yikes, I don’t know what that means, but I was trying to come up with something positive in the midst of what I think everyone feels: the world is about to collapse in a chain reaction. Greece produces nothing. They can’t possibly pay back their loans in the near future. When they eventually default, everyone who has bought their bonds(lent them money) will suffer big losses. They will be downgraded and will have problems borrowing money to continue their projects and they will cut back etc. So eventually there will be a world Great Depression. The catastrophe is being delayed by borrowing more money (printing bonds). The bonds are IOU’s that become money that is available now to be paid back by the great grandchildren’s income. But that’s a Ponzi scheme that will collapse because there won’t be enough children who can earn enough in the future to pay back all the borrowings that all countries have made on paper.

  3. aww thanks, glad you like my commentary. I like to try to soothe invisible pains, though i sometimes worry that i’m not very good at it. I love the words that roll smoke-like out on your breath. All of the borrowing money that doesn’t actually exist is a huge problem. A world-wide depression…gosh that just sounds horrible. I was reading the news earlier (something i shouldn’t do because i just get depressed but for some odd reason i can’t keep myself from doing it) but anyway, someone stole a saint’s heart from a cathedral in Ireland. Why would someone do that? It has way more sentimental value than it would monetary value (one would think anyways). This is such a weird world we live in.

    1. “People being on edge lately” : Maybe it wasn’t about a coming World Depression but maybe they felt the tornadoes coming. People can rebuild from that. But the other catastrophes maybe not. The tornadoes and other weird weather maybe aren’t a sign of anything — maybe it’s a natural cycle that happens every 100,000 years or so and we’re not doing it. I think the real catastrophe is the disappearance of banana ice cream from the stores and extra-extra sweet chocolate versions from 30 years ago. This is an indication of moral decay when there is no decent banana ice cream in the supermarket or pistachio. The poor can’t afford ice cream makers and heavy cream. The downtrodden poor must rise up, storm the barricades with their spoons and go bananas for freedom’s dessert. The people are screaming for ice cream… don’t let them eat the cake without the cream of human kindness. Up with bananas!

  4. Yeah, i could feel them…i had a panic attack on the way to my parent’s house by the time i got there i was shaking and could hardly breathe. My dad called and told me i needed to leave now if i was going to go over there (they have a basement). The tornado sirens were going off and as i drove through town there were people standing on their porches pointing and i’m looking around thinking “what do they see? I don’t see it” but i could feel it and knew it wasn’t too far away. Luckily our area was completely untouched but areas across the river were destroyed.
    I agree. We do need banana ice cream and the extra-extra sweet chocolate kinds in the stores. I bet if you made a bowl with half of the banana and the other half the chocolate it would be delicious…kind of like a banana split but not really. I actually haven’t been eating much ice cream…until the little man picked out some mint chocolate brownie at the store. I ate a little cup one night and then i was hooked. I’ve had it about 3 more times since then and the other night i almost ate the last of it. I’m going to have to buy him some more now (and keep my spoon out of it this time, hehe).

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